Brazil lower house clears genetically modified soy decree
May 14, 2003 (Reuters)

BRASILIA, May 14, (Reuters) - Brazil's lower house of Congress approved on Wednesday a government decree authorising the sale of genetically modified soy until March 31, 2004, instead of Jan. 31 as originally envisaged.

Provisional measure 113 published on March 26, which must still be approved by Senate upper house, requires all soybeans harvested this year to carry a label saying that they may contain GM material.

Producers of conventional soy crops, who wish to sell them as such, must have them certified. The sale of GM soy seed remains banned.

"The decree doesn't allow planting of GM soy but it sets rules for marketing this year's harvest," said deputy Henrique Fontana from Rio Grande do Sul state.

Soy harvesting is virtually finished.

The provisional measure aims to legalise the situation in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's No. 3 soy producer, where the state's agricultural cooperatives federation, Fecoagro, estimates that up to 60 percent of the crop is genetically modified.

Farmers have ignored rules on GM soy labelling since the decree was published in March.

The decree prompted the Brazilian unit of U.S. farm products maker Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MON - News) to seek royalties for the illegal use of the firm's genetically modified "Roundup Ready" soybeans in Brazil.

The government has pledged to draft a bill settling the question of GM crops on a long term basis.