Brazil, one of the world's largest soy producers, could soon legalise the use of controversial gene-modified soybeans after a five year ban, writes the American Soybean Association (ASA) this week.
According to the ASA report, many soy industry figures are sceptical the ban will be lifted in time for plantings this year, particularly with a number of cabinet ministers opposed to GMOs. Brazil is the last major agricultural exporter to ban the use of GMO technology, which is estimated to be used in around 56 per cent of the world's production.
But Brazilian agriculture minister Roberto Rodrigues is positive. "There is still a great possibility that the Senate will legalise GMOs before late September when farmers start planting the next crop," said the minister, writes the ASA.
The Brazilian courts have upheld a ban on the planting and the sale of GMOs since 1998- the same time period as the European Union. But Brazil's lower house recently passed a bill to legalise their use. The bill now goes to the Senate. If passed by the upper house, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva must then ratify the law. "The executive will respect the legislature's decision. If they free it, it is freed," said Rodrigues.
According to the ASA, the minister also said last week that the government defended Monsanto's right to charge royalties from next year but was not up to date with discussions on licenses for this season. "I was with the Monsanto people 10 days ago, and they didn't mention the license demand. This could create great export problems," he said. Monsanto has chosen to negotiate with individual exporters rather than associations.