The Seeds of Discontent
Despite a teeming black market for genetically modified seeds in Brazil, the country’s leading presidential candidate says he would not lift a four-year ban on biotechnology anytime soon. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the leftist Workers’ Party, who by all appearances was the victor in the first round of elections, held this weekend, opposes GM crops, saying they are harmful to small farms. His agricultural advisor, Jose Graziano da Silva, says, “We get premium prices on specialty markets that our competitors — the U.S. and Argentina — don’t because they plant GM.” However, the Brazilian Association of Seed Producers and some farmers say GM technology would reduce costs and increase yields; they claim the ban is hurting their competitiveness. Official state-registered seed producers say they are watching their orders plummet as the black market heats up. More than half of the soybeans grown in key agricultural regions in southern Brazil are believed to be planted from illegal GM seeds smuggled in from Argentina.