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Activists and Poor Farmers Tip Off Prosecutors...
Cargill Corn Waylaid by Brazil Ban on GMOs

(20 June - Cropchoice News) -- Brazilian courts are upholding the law of the land that bans biotech grain imports, with a six figure tonnage impact on bulk freighter shipments. The courts are acting on tips from Greenpeace and the MST, the Movement of Landless Rural Workers, a politically important Brazilian group of sharecroppers, poor farmers, and fieldhands. The environmental and rural groups are cooperating to prevent imports of GMO grain.

The latest incident is in the port of Recife in the northern state of Pernambuco where officials have prevented the unloading of 38,000 tons of Argentine corn belonging to Minneapolis-based Cargill. The corn will stay onboard a freighter pending results of GMO tests. The grain was destined for use in Brazilian poultry feed.

Brazilian courts are enforcing a 1995 law. Marcos Acosta, a spokesman for the Brazilian Federal Prosecutor's Office, told Reuters that "We are not against the importation of Argentine grain, but presently Brazilian law does not permit the entrance of GM[O] material," Agriculture officials in Pernambuco told Brazilian radio that if the corn tests positive it will be turned back.

Including the stalled Cargill shipment, over 100,000 tons of Argentine corn are either waylaid or have been "re-exported" from Brazil in the last two weeks. One shipment has been sitting in quarantine in a southern Brazilian port since May 31st while officials wait for the results of a second set of GMO tests.

A poor Brazilian corn harvest this year has led to increased demand for imports. A Cargill Brazil statement obtained by Reuters ducked responsibility for GMOs and suggested other sources for corn could be found - for more money. Cargill says "This merchandise is to supply the needs of the Brazilian market which does not have enough of its own production to meet all demand. The role of Cargill Agricola, a Brazilian company, in this operation is one of simple facilitator of the process... Other options would be the purchase of corn from countries such as China with much higher costs..."

SOURCE: Correio do Povo, Jornal do Brasil, Reuters