While black market use of high-tech soybean seed was almost common in some areas of Brazil, legally the government has been moving slow on approving use of the crops. But recent events, including the forced admission that biotech crops were in Brazil to satisfy import requirements of some countries, may be forcing a change in tune.
After several months of delays and heated debate, legislators passed a biotech law by a vote of 352 to 60, according to wire reports. The bill had pitted farmers and scientists against environmental and religious groups. In addition to lifting the ban on the "official" sale of gene-altered crops, the law clears the way for research in other areas of biotech including human stem cells.
The bill was approved by the country's Senate last December, should be signed into law with the next two weeks. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's Workers' Party is filled with environmentalists who oppose the high-tech crops, but he has issued temporary decrees twice in the last two years to allow use of the crops.
Ag experts have estimated for some time that about 30% of the country's soybean crop included biotech seeds.