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Monsanto Uses False Advertising to Promote GMO’s in Brazil

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NEWS FROM BRAZIL supplied by SEJUP (Servico Brasileiro de Justica e Paz).
Number 503, January 2, 2004

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This week's News from Brazil is a translation of an article written by
an organization which is opposed to the implementation of GMO
(genetically modified organism) technology in Brazil. The article
targets Monsanto, a US agricultural company which is promoting the
technology.

Monsanto Uses False Advertising to Promote GMO's

"Imagine a world which preserves nature, the air, the rivers. Where
we can produce more with fewer pesticides, without destroying the
forests. Imagine a world with more food, with more nutritious food,
and people with better health. Can you imagine it? Ah, but you never
imagined that GMO's could help us do this. Have you ever thought of a
better world? You should think like we do. A Monsanto initiative
with the support of the Associação Brasileira de Nutrologia."

From a Monsanto ad campaign

The Campaign for a Brazil Free of GMO's now publicly manifests its
opposition to the propaganda Monsanto has produced here on TV, radio
and press regarding GMO's. With emotional appeal, Monsanto is trying
to form public opinion based on a nonexistent relationship between
transgenic production and the conservation of the environment. The
commercial tries to get the consumer to believe that transgenic
production promotes food and environmental security, citing the
benefits that biotechnology can bring.

Let us analyze a few points of the advertising.

1. The commercial implies that transgenic production can help to
"preserve nature, the air, the rivers." It is important to establish
that there are two types of transgenic plants that are being produced
commercially today. The first class make up 75% of all transgenic
plants. These plants are herbicide-resistant. In other words, with
proper care, the farmer can spray as much herbicides over the fields
as he needs, and all the plants except those that are transgenic will
die. It is important to note here that Monsanto, which produces the
seeds for these plants, also produces the herbicide to which these
plants are resistant.

The second type make up 17% of transgenic plants. These plants
receive genes from a bacteria in the soil and then produce toxic
insecticides. An insect eats part of the plant, then dies. The other
8% are a combination of these two technologies.

Up until now, no tests have shown that GMO's benefit nature, air or
water. Quite the contrary. These plants tend to need a greater
quantity of herbicides, thus contaminating even more nature. The
second type of GMO's also kills beneficial insects, thus disturbing
the balance of nature.

2. The propaganda goes on to insinuate that trangenics can produce
more with less chemicals. According to studies done in the US,
genetically modified soy beans produce 5-10 less than conventional
soybeans. Concerning other types of plants, production has been less
or at most equal to that of conventional crops. As noted above, there
has been no less use of chemicals in transgenic production. It is
also relevant to note that the use of glyphosate (the principle
component of Monsanto's herbicide Round-Up) has tripled in the state
of Rio Grande do Sul--exactly during the period when the cultivation
of these illegal transgenic plants began to spread (1998-2001).

It is equally unacceptable to say the transgenic plants help to
prevent deforestation. Most cultivation of GMO's (soy, corn and
cotton) are export commodities and require vast areas of land. Large
farmers continue to buy forest lands throughout Brazil in order to
increase their production of soy.

3. The commercial implies that GMO's make for healthier food and
healthier people. Concerning this claim, no country in the world has
properly evaluated the effects of GMO's on people's health.

As if this were not enough, Monsanto is soliciting Anvisa (the
Brazilian Food and Safety department) to increase by 50% the Maximum
Limit of Residues (MLR) of glyphosate on its soybeans. In addition,
Monsanto has refused to do environmental impact studies since 1998
when the Justice Department ordered the company to do so. At the same
time, Monsanto is fighting against a law which would require companies
to label products which contain GMO's.

If Monsanto is so sure about the safety of transgenic plants, why do
they refuse to do impact studies to evaluate the risks. Why are they
trying to change Brazilian laws without doing any evaluations?

4. We find it disturbing that in their TV ads Monsanto presents
images of pregnant women and children, implying that GMO's are good
for mothers and infants. In 2002, the Studies of the Royal Society of
the United Kingdom recommended that special attention be given to
transgenic food destined for babies because of the risks GMO's have:
"Babies fed with a bottle might become undernourished if they are fed
infant formula made with GMO's as there is inadequate regulation and
regimented tests for transgenic foods" (Daily Telegraph, February 5,
2002)

5. Besides being deceitful, Monsanto is producing propaganda for
products prohibited in the country. In spite of Provisionary Measures
113 and 131 which authorized the commercialization of transgenic soy,
the sale of transgenic sees continues to be prohibited by the Justice
Department.

All this being the case, we urge the Brazilian authorities to suspend
Monsanto's deceitful advertizing and oblige the company to pay for ads
which will correct their misinformation and present clearly the facts
concerning transgenics.

References

BENBROOK, C.M. Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide
Use in the United States The First Eight Years. BioTech InfoNet
Technical Paper Number 6. November 2003.

____________. Troubled times amid commercial success for Roundup Ready
soybeans Glyphosate efficacy is slipping and unstable transgene
expression erodes plant defenses and yields. AgBioTech InfoNet
technical paper no. 4, 3 May, 2001a.

____________. When does it pay to plant Bt corn farm level economic
impacts of Bt corn 1996-2001. www.iatp.org

ELMORE, R.W. et al. Glyphosate-resistant soybean cultivar yields
compared with sister lines. Agronomy Journal, 93408-412, 2001.

FULTON, M.; KEYOWSKI, L. The producer benefits of herbicide-resistant
canola. AgBioForum, vol. 2, no.2, 1999. (www.agbioforum.missouri.edu).

HANSEN, L. e OBRYCKI, J., Non-target effects of Bt corn pollen on the
Monarch butterfly (LepidopteraDanaidae), abstract of a poster
presented at the North Central Branch meeting of the Entomological
Society of America, March 29, 1999
(www.ent.iastate.edu/entsoc/ncb99/prog/abs/d81.html).

HARDELL, L. & ERIKSSON, M. A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin
Lymphoma and Exposure to Pesticides. Cancer, v. 85, n.6, 1999.

LOSEY, J. et al. Transgenic pollen harms monarch larvae. Nature
399214, May 20, 1999.

OLIVA, A.; SPIR A, A.; MULTIGNER, L. Contribution of environmental
factors to the risk of male infertility. Human Reproduction, v.16,
n.8, p.1768-1776, 2001.

IBAMA Relatórios de consumo de ingredientes ativos de agrotóxicos e
afins no Brasil anos 1998 a 2001/DF. Março de 2003.

ROIG, J. L. D. & ARNÁIZ, M. G. Riesgos sobre la salud de los alimentos
modificados genéticamenteuna revisión bibliográfica. Revista Española
de Salud Pública, vol.74 n.3 Madrid May/June 2000.

SHOEMAKER, R. (Ed.) Economic issues in agricultural biotechnology.
Agricultural Information Bulletin, no. 762, Economic Research Service
of the USDA, 2001.

WALSH, L.O., MCCORMICK, C., MARTIN, C., STOCCO, D.M. Roundup Inhibits
Steroidogenesis by Disrupting Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory (StAR)
Protein Expression. Environ Health Perspectives, v.108, p.769-776,
2000.


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