Further delay in Brazil GMO ruling
Friday February 14, 1:01 pm ET

SAO PAULO, Brazil, Feb 14 (Reuters) - A federal court ruling on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), due on Friday, has been delayed and and it's unclear when it will be made, a court spokeswoman said.

The delay comes despite the Federal Regional Court's rejection on Thursday of a request by Environment Minister Marina Silva to suspend a ruling on a bid by the previous government to hasten a decision by dispensing with a GMO environmental impact study.

"There's no precise date for the ruling," the spokeswoman for the federal regional court in Brasilia said on Friday.

In a statement on Thursday, federal judge Selene Maria de Almeida said that the case was already under way and there was no legal reason for further delay.

"There is no legal suspend judgment in the middle of the process," De Almeida said.

Environment Minister Marina Silva requested on Feb. 4 that the ruling be suspended as the new government of President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva needed more time to re-examine the issue.

An environment ministry spokesman said on Friday that the ministry was studying the court's decision.

The National Environmental Council, which controls GMO licensing, decided in June 2002 that implementation was up to the Environment Ministry.

In 1997, Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MON - News) gained permission from the government's commission on biotechnology (CTNBio) to start field tests on transgenic crops.

In 1998, Monsanto requested approval for commercial planting of genetically modified Roundup Ready soy.

Although CTNBio approved the request, saying there was no environmental risk or danger to human or animal health, local consumer and environmental groups challenged CTNBio's authority in the courts.

At the Brasilia-based federal regional court, one of the three judges examining the case has ruled in favor of recognizing the CTNBio's authority but the other two judges are still considering the question.