Brazil soy group warns farmers against using new Monsanto seed
The soybean variety, Intacta RR2 Pro, hasn't been approved in China, where more than two-thirds of Brazil's exports of the oilseed are shipped. Mato Grosso state soybean and corn producers' association Aprosoja said in a statement Monday that farmers using Intacta RR2 seeds could accidentally contaminate shipments of approved soybean varieties, putting exports to China at risk of being refused.
Monsanto responded Tuesday, saying the company hasn't allowed commercial sales of Intacta RR2 in Brazil and won't do so until all of the country's main export markets approve it. A stockpile of 600,000 sacks of the seeds, which Monsanto had produced based on the belief that China could approve Intacta RR2 "at any time," will be destroyed, the firm added.
Aprosoja said Monsanto had been handing out samples of the new seeds to farmers in Mato Grosso and required them to sign a waiver accepting responsibility for any contamination that occurred.
"It's like they're testing it, but with no controls," an Aprosoja official said.
Last year, Monsanto invited 500 Brazilian farmers in 10 states to plant Intacta RR2 alongside fields sown with the company's Roundup Ready soy, an herbicide-resistant variety that is commonly used in Brazil. The fields were closely monitored, and the soybeans produced using Intacta RR2 were subsequently destroyed.
Monsanto said it plans to carry out another round of demonstrations this year.
Intacta RR2 soybean seeds use so-called "stacked" genes that make the plants resistant to insects as well as herbicides.
Transgenic seeds will account for 88% of Brazil's 2013 soybean crop, according to a recent estimate by local grains consultancy Celeres. Most of the transgenic soy currently planted in Brazil resists only herbicides.
Brazil, the U.S. and the European Union, among other countries, already have approved Intacta RR2 for use. But the enormous importance of China to Brazil's soybean-exporting industry--and the ease with which contamination can occur while soybeans are being stored or transported--means Brazilian farmers should refrain from trying the new strain, Aprosoja said.
"All Brazilian producers still have bitter memories of the enormous crisis in prices caused by Chinese refusal of various Brazilian soy shipments in 2004," the association said.
Brazil next year likely will harvest a record soybean crop that could push it ahead of the U.S. as the world's top soybean producer, analysts say. Farmers will begin planting as early as September.
Write to Paul Kiernan at email@example.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 04, 2012 14:55 ET (18:55 GMT)