It has taken a long time - 8 years to be precise. In 2002 Bayer first applied for approval for Brazilian farmers to be allowed to grow their genetically engineered (GE) rice. The only problem with their plan is that Brazilian rice farmers and producers don’t want GE rice. Bayer has finally gotten the message, and yesterday they finally withdrew their application.
Bayer is saying publically that they have withdrawn their application “to broaden the dialogue with key members in the production of rice in Brazil”. I would think 8 years would be more than enough time to broaden the debate on how GE crops are becoming less effective in the face of weeds that are resistant to herbicides, how rice producers have lost financially due to GE rice and how we continue to see unexpected side effects from GE crops.
It might have been more than just the Brazilian’s rejection of GE rice that made Bayer act. They are also currently taking a pounding in the US courts, having to pay out tens of millions of dollars to rice producers affected by their contamination of the US rice supply in 2006.
Despite this, the message from Brazilian rice producers is clear – GE rice is not wanted in Brazil. To broaden the debate Bayer will need to do some serious searching for other players in the Brazilian rice production chain, as already most of these players have voiced their opposition to GE rice. Amongst these groups is the Rice Federation of Rio Grande do Sul, the region which accounts for 60% of Brazilian rice production.
It’s time for governments everywhere to stand up for what people and producers want and stop GE rice.
See more on Greenpeace Brazil’s webpage (in Portuguese).
Image: © Alex Baluyut / Greenpeace