Dirceu warns Brazil farmers not to sow GM soy
Tuesday June 24

SAO PAULO, Brazil, June 24 (Reuters) - Chief of Staff Jose Dirceu said on Tuesday that Brazil would enforce a ban on genetically modified soybeans, after producers last week said they would sow GM soy regardless of any ban.

"Let them have no doubt," said Dirceu during the seminar Transgenics and the Brazilian Society. "The government has instruments to enforce the law."

Brazil is the last large-scale soy producer that still bans the commercial planting of GM crops. However, its government granted an amnesty until March 2004 for producers, mainly in Rio Grande do Sul, illegally growing GM soybeans.

Last week during a seminar on transgenics in Rio Grande do Sul, producers and leaders in the rural sector said they would plant GM soybeans next crop in October-December. The new crop would not be harvested before the present amnesty ends.

Growers say that genetically modified soybeans have lower production costs and that premiums for conventional soybeans are practically non-existent.

"We are seeking a transparent public debate, with calmness and without radicalism," said Dirceu.

The debate over biotechnology took front stage on the international scene, as well, this week.

U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday said the European Union (News - Websites) should lift restrictions on GM foods "for the sake of a continent threatened by famine," in reference to Africa.

Europe shot back on Tuesday, accusing Bush of falsehoods about EU restrictions on the eve of a summit meant to ease transatlantic tensions.