Keep up with the latest news and comment on genetically modified foods            

Updates on GM-free campaigns in Brazil

1.Brazilian anti-GMO campaign group to appear on leading news show
2.War on Want/AS-PTA projects in Brazil
3.Once again Brazil breaks the record on the use of pesticides
1.Brazilian anti-GMO campaign group to appear on leading news show
War on Want, 9 June 2010

Tonight Globo News, a leading Brazilian news programme, will broadcast a special feature on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The program will include interviews with Gabriel Bianconi Fernandes, a researcher with AS-PTA, an anti-GMO campaign group and War on Want partner organisation.

Tonight's feature, "Cities and Solutions", aims to shed light on the debate over GM crops, a topic that has barely been covered in the mainstream media.

GM crops first appeared on the Brazilian market five years ago. Today many varieties of GM crops are now in use, including 11 varieties of GM soybeans, six types cotton and 10 vaccines for veterinary use. Many members of the scientific community have condemned GM crops due to the risks they pose to human health and the environment. There is also a great deal of controversy over the safety of the technology used to create new crops and the licensing procedures. In addition, many people have argued that GM seeds are less productive than traditional seeds.

Despite the potential dangers posed by GM crops, the public is largely unaware of the controversy surrounding their use. In Brazil, a law requiring the labeling of all GM products is not obeyed by most companies, and the government has been lax in enforcing compliance. Currently there are three bills before the Brazilian parliament that would abolish labeling requirements. Many experts feel that the passage of this bill would violate the consumer's right to know exactly what they are eating.

The first program will air at 11.30pm June 9 on Globo News.
2.Alternative agriculture projects in Brazil
Country: Brazil  |  Partner: AS-PTA
War on Want

* To closely monitor and oppose the commercial release of GMOs in Brazil
* To promote and develop Brazilian agriculture based on agro-ecological principles
* To strengthen family agriculture
* To influence public agricultural policies in favour of sustainable agricultural practices

The facts

    * Despite being one of the richest nations in the world in terms of GDP, 58 million people in Brazil suffer from hunger and lack food security

    * The Brazilian government is backing large-scale agriculture. GBP840 million was allocated to 10 multinational agribusinesses alone, according to the budget for 2003/2004. Almost the same amount was allocated to the entire country's family agriculture sector (4 million families)

    * Multinationals dominate the agricultural market. By 1999, multinationals controlled 90% of the hybrid maize seed market, with one company controlling 60% of the market

    * The cost of producing crops using GMOs or chemical methods is much more expensive than traditional methods - 60-70% of the price of the crop. Agricultural families are left with a tiny income of about 830 USD a year, far below the international poverty line

    * Lack of food security is forcing rural people to migrate to urban areas. Between 1996 and 1999, 4.2 million people left the countryside to join the 30 million who flocked to urban centres between 1970 and 1990

In Brazil 40 % of the poor live in rural areas. Unequal land distribution and agricultural policies that favour large-scale agriculture are at the root of Brazil's agricultural complications.

Anti-GM campaign

AS-PTA is leading the campaign against genetically modified organisms in Brazil (GMOs). Under pressure from multinational biotechnology firms and commercial farmers, Brazil's government recently relaxed biosafety regulation on the sale of genetically modified seeds. Since GM maize was legalised in 2008 over 50% of all new maize seeds to come on sale in Brazil are GM. Varieties of other GM seeds including rice and soybean have also recently been legalised.

Small-scale farmers are now faced with a doubled edged sword. GM seeds are more expensive, therefore increasing their costs, but at they same time they are producing poorer harvests. However, few options are now available to small farmers as GM seeds are starting to dominate the market. These farmers depend on the ability to store and share seeds within their communities, but this right could be challenged by the biotechnology firms that sell the seeds. Farmers will also need to protect their crops from accidental contamination from GMOs to prevent allegations of illegal use of the GM seeds due to the patents that are placed on them.

War on Want is pleased to support AS-PTA in its work to monitor and oppose the commercial release of GMOs, and at the same time counter the effects of GMO growth by:

* Working with small farmers to promote the use of local varieties of seeds, which in contrast to GM seeds don't cost anything and will also produce for generations of harvests to come

* Supporting small farmers to monitor the effects of GM seeds, including contamination of non GM crops

* Raising awareness of the dangers and growth of GM, with small farming communities and also the Brazilian public at large

Supporting small-scale farming

AS-PTA has been supporting sustainable agriculture and food security in Brazil for over 20 years by promoting and strengthening family and ecological farming. It acts as a partner and advisor for small-scale farmers and family agriculture, promoting ecological practices in order to influence policymaking towards sustainable practices. In addition to the basic rights of small-scale farmers, AS-PTA is currently campaigning against GMOs.

The AS-PTA works at the local, regional and national levels support small-scale farmers. Locally it supports networks and development projects and works with local family agriculture organisations, facilitating the research and dissemination of new farming techniques and improving production systems. The AS-PTA also helps local agricultural organisations build capacity, which allows local groups to manage their own rural community development projects.

As a member of the umbrella group for all organisations working on ecological farming in Brazil, the AS-PTA plays an active part in regional and national networks, civil society working groups and public agricultural bodies. Regionally and nationally, the AS-PTA develops extensive ecological farming information resources to support initiatives that influence public policy.
War on Want gratefully acknowledges funding for this programme from the Civil Society Challenge Fund of the UK government's Department for International Development.
3.Once again Brazil breaks the record on the use of pesticides
Update from the GM-Free Brazil Campaign
Rio de Janeiro, June 9 2010

*Inspections from Anvisa (Brazilian FDA) keep finding irregularities at the poisonous factories

An important Brazilian newspaper (Valor Econômico) published in the beginning of May the most updated data of pesticide use in Brazil. In 2008 we were the world leader on the use of these agrochemicals and in 2009 we outdid ourselves. Over one million tons were sold, which means an average of 49 pounds per hectare in the 2009/10 harvest, or 11 pounds per habitant! This data was collected by Sindag, the national union of the pesticides industry. The volume is 7,7% bigger that the one used in 2008/09.

Soybean was responsible for the rise in the total use of agrochemicals with a highlight to herbicides. 23.2 million hectares sowed with the grain got 530.1 thousand tons of pesticides, raising the volume of the product used in 18%. There was also a significant rise of 14.8% in the use of fungicide for soybean for the control of Asian rust in the regions of the south and middle west when compared to last year.

Even though 2009/10 was the first transgenic corn harvest in Brazil -- with the never ending promise of a lesser use of pesticides --, the use of poisonous chemicals remained the same for the crop.

An estimate of ISAAA (probably inflated, but unfortunately the only one available) is that the transgenic corn harvest represented 36% of the cultivated area with the cereal. And cotton producers, the other crop that has a transgenic version in Brazil, rose the use of chemicals in 13.8%, despite the fact that the total cotton area remained the same as last year, around 836 thousand hectares.

While the numbers and all other evidences clearly show that the introduction of transgenic seeds in the country only helped increase the use of pesticides, most members of CTNBio, the government agency responsible for evaluating and authorizing genetically modified organisms for cultivation and commercialization, continue to turn its back to reality saying the opposite. And besides continuing their efforts to eliminate transgenic monitoring, the only alternative to detect effects linked to consume, they are now trying to create political conditions to authorize Bayer’s transgenic rice (Liberty Link, tolerant to the application of the herbicide glufosinate ammonium), never before allowed in any other country.

Last month the collegiate invited two scientists that are favorable to the approval of the rice (both of them doing research with Bayer) to discuss the subject with its members. The committee's president announced that there will be a vote in June -- when all the country’s attention will be on the Soccer World Cup.

 To assure a certain relief, Anvisa, the agency connected to the Ministry of Health, started recently to inspect the main pesticide factories of the country. There were 7 inspections between July 2009 and May 2010. Only in the last factory adulterated products and many others serious irregularities were not found.

Just to mention one of the biggest: at Bayer, Anvisa found 1 million liters of pesticides with its formula adulterated; at Syngenta, Anvisa found 1.150 million litters of adulterated chemicals and at Basf there were 800 thousands liters of adulterated pesticides with its expiration date expired and without the fabrication or validity date. There were products with pre mix fabrication dates that were more recent than the final product fabrication date.

The infractions found will be penalized with fees up to US$ 815,000. Toxicological evaluation reports of the agrochemicals will also be canceled where irregularities were identified.

The last inspection and also the only one that there were no agrochemicals adulterated was at Monsanto and even so, the company was penalized for omission of information related to the production process of the pesticides and will pay a fee of


Agenor Álvares, director of Anvisa, highlights that it was the first agrochemical company inspected by Anvisa where products did not show signs of adulteration and lines of production were not stopped. He also said that he trusts the inspections educative character have been affecting the whole sector of agrochemicals. "We hope to make inspections where no irregularities are found", says Álvares.

GM-FREE BRAZIL - Published by AS-PTA Agricultura Familiar e Agroecologia. The GM-Free Brazil Campaign is a collective of Brazilian NGOs, social movements and individuals.

AS-PTA an independent, not-for-profit Brazilian organisation dedicated to promoting the sustainable rural development. Head office: Rua da Candelária, 9/6º andar | CEP: 20.091-020, Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Phone: 0055-21-2253-8317 Fax: 0055-21-2233-363

This article can be found on the AS-PTA website at

Should you have any comments, suggestions or questions, feel free to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Do participate! Indicate this bulletin to a friend.

To subscribe email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.