Greenpeace considers “absurd” the promulgation of the third provisional measure (Medida Provisória – MP) authorizing transgenic soybeans, also know as genetically modified (GM) soybeans, in Brazil.
The official note issued by the organization alleges that the MP published last October 14 runs counter to the judicial decision by the Regional Federal Court (Tribunal Regional Federal – TRF) of Brasília.
That decision determined that planting transgenic soybeans would continue to be illegal in Brazil as long as the company responsible for the technology failed to present the appropriate environmental impact studies.
“It is unacceptable and absurd, since it means we shall have another year of transgenic soybeans without an evaluation of the environmental impact this type of crop can cause,” warns Ventura Barbeiro, an agronomist with the Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campaign.
He recognizes, however, that the new MP “does not authorize the cultivation of transgenic soybeans in a general, indiscrimate manner, and it even probits the transfer of seeds from one state to another.”
According to Barbeiro, the excuse that there wasn’t enough time to do an environmental impact study of this type of crop is unacceptable.
“This entire juridical and legislative problem has been around for many years, and during this time it was possible to conduct an environmental impact study,” he affirmed.
Barbeiro is of the opinion that most of the companies are in favor of authorization without an environmental impact study, in order “not to run the risk of having one of their seeds be submitted to an evaluation and be prohibited for being harmful to the environment.”
According to the agronomist, the Brazilian Institution for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) conducts environmental impact studies in only three areas.
The research along these lines involves papaya in the Northeast, corn in São Paulo, and beans in Rio de Janeiro.
Regarding the declaration by the Minister of Environment, Marina Silva, that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had been forced by circumstances to issue the MP, to keep transgenic soybean cultivation from slipping back into illegality, Barbeiro recalls that the Minister “fought up to the last moment for the Brazilian Constitution to be obeyed.”
The authorization, by means of an MP, for the cultivation and commercialization of transgenic soybeans represents a defeat for the Ministry of Environment and social and environmental organizations and movements, in the view of João Paulo Rodrigues, a member of the National Coordinating Board of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
“The government is making a big mistake by authorizing transgenics without a study of the impact on the environment and health,” Rodrigues affirms.
The provisional measure authorizes the cultivation of transgenic soybeans for the 2004/2005 agricultural year and allows its commercialization until 2006.
It is identical to the PM issued at the same juncture last year for the 2003/2004 agricultural year.
General norms for the cultivation of genetically modified organisms are contained in the biosecurity law, which would obviate the periodic promulgation of provisional measures.
The Administration’s original bill, which was approved in the Chamber of Deputies, was altered in the Senate and is now back in the Chamber for the amendments to be analyzed and voted.
Translator: David Silberstein