This piece on how Argentina is losing out to Brazil in the export stakes should be read in conjunction with the previous report http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/245.htm of Monsanto's attempt to intimidate Argentina out of any attempt at more careful regulation of GMO commercialisation. Monsanto has threatened to "close some operations in Argentina if the government does not loosen restrictions on genetically modified (GM) food production".
Argentina is, of course, constantly portrayed by biotech boosters as hot for this technology. Yet Monsanto's agriculture director for southern Latin America was quoted as saying:
"The risk that we're running is that as a country we could be left behind in a technology that we had the opportunity to latch onto first, and now it seems like we want to give it up".
Spain seen buying more GM-free Brazilian corn
Reuters Company News - January 15, 2001 12:06
By Reese Ewing
SAO PAULO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Latin America's leading grain cooperative COAMO says Brazil's GM-free corn will continue to attract international buyers such as Spain which purchased 150,000 tonnes last month, a cooperative official said on Monday.
Brazil should win some of Spain's next cut-levy action in two or three months, said COAMO's sales spokesman Roberto de Melo. Brazil's COAMO won in December its first contract to supply 150,000 tonnes to the Iberian nation.
"If prices hold, it (Spain) should buy more Brazilian corn from the coming crop. There really aren't many other options for finding GM-free corn right now," Melo told Reuters.
Spain paid between $96 and $97 a tonne for the grade-three corn purchased last month, well over the market price at the time of $90-$91 a tonne, said Melo. This is the first time Brazil has sold corn to Spain since 1996.
Argentina, which often supplies a large portion of Spain's yearly corn imports, was hoping perhaps to win the position as the sole supplier of the 450,000 tonne cut-levy granted to Spain by the European Union in early November.
But, Brazil won the contract to supply the European nation with animal-food grade corn because it can offer grain that is not genetically altered, he added.
Unlike Argentina, Brazil has a ban on growing GM grains for consumption, animal or human. Although the government has granted biotech companies like Monsanto licenses to plant GM grains for research, Brazil still forbids their commercial use or sale.
Argentina is the world's second largest grower of bioengineered grains after the United States.
COAMO, based in the state of Parana, said the corn would be shipped from either of Brazil's southern corn states of Parana or Rio Grande do Sul. Melo added that about 100,000 tonnes of the contract have already left Brazil for Spain.
Brazil is not a typical exporter of corn. It should be a net importer of about 2.1 million tonnes of corn in 2000 because of drought and frost that compromised its national crop, said independent grains analyst Safras e Mercado.
Brazil's Agriculture Ministry last forecast that Brazil would produce over 37 million tonnes of corn next season, a 27 percent jump over the old crop output, due to increased planting and better rainfall. Spain may not be the only new market for Brazilian corn. The recent contamination of the U.S. corn supply with GM StarLink corn, designed by French-German biotech firm Aventis , has shaken sales of the grain to countries such as Japan. Starlink was only approved for animal consumption but it first popped up in taco shells and corn chips in late September. "As far as other possible buyers of GM-free Brazilian corn, Japan may turn to Brazil after the StarLink problem in the United States," said Melo.