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May 19, 2010

SciDev Op - Increased GM Crop Production in Argentina and Brazil Not Fully Embraced

USDA Map of Argentine Soybean Fields
On 19 May 2010 SciDev.Net published a report presenting a view that there has been opposition to the rapid adoption of agricultural biotechnology in Argentina and Brazil.  The report was written by Luisa Massarani, coordinator for SciDev.Net and research at Museum of Life, House of Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz, Brazil; Ildeu de Castro Moreira, professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Ana Maria Vara, researcher at the National University of San Martín, Argentina.

The authors argue that in Argentina the adoption of agricultural biotechnology was implemented by just one government office and was never opened up for a public debate.  The author's interviewed "about 50 Argentinean small-scale farmers in 2007 [who] revealed concern about the social changes the switch to GM soybeans causes. GM profits for many came not from growing the crop themselves, but from renting their land to commercial farmers for large-scale production."

In Brazil, in 1998 the Worker's Party and some state governments adopted an anti-GM position.  They argue that the scientific community was also divided over whether to support GM technology.  This included Glaci Zancan, then president of the Brazilian Association for the Advancement of Science who opposed the commercialization of GM crops due to absence of long-term health and environmental studies.

The authors interviewed about 80 Brazilian stakeholders and approximately 200 small-scale farmers.  They argue that the growth of GM crops in Brazil is due to: "1) the use of non-approved GM seeds illegally brought over from Argentina; 2) a curiosity for testing new seeds; pressures to keep the harvest as economically productive as possible; 3) in some regions, conventional soya seeds are becoming hard to find; and 4) clever tactics employed by the pro-GM lobby, which includes ... doling out free GM seeds."

"Indeed, a common refrain among those we interviewed was 'I'm happy to grow it, but I wouldn't eat it'." 

For more see: Massarini, Luisa Ildeu de Castro Moreira and Ana Maria Vara, "GM: higher production doesn't mean wider acceptance," SciDev.Net, 19 May 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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