Great news for soya farmers in Brazil! These producers, which have been complaining of the limited availability of conventional seeds in the brazilian market, are now  counting on government help to solve the problem through  the recently launched Soja Livre (Free Soya), a programme  result of a partnership between Embrapa (the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, led by the State), APROSOJA (Association of Soya Producers of Mato Grosso State) and ABRANGE (Brazilian Association of Non Genetically Modified Grain Producers).

Using the wide scientific expertise and technological resources from Embrapa, non-GE soya crops have been developed and are undergoing  the testing phase, held in 13 cities of Mato Grosso state. It is expected that these crops are going to be available for the farmers already in the 2011/2012 harvesting season. The farmers, who claimed for conventional seeds by the possibility of higher economic profits and declared themselves as  hostages of the multinationals, shall  have their right to choose assured.

In the launch event, representatives of the farmers associations stressed the importance of Brazil in the international arena as one of the remaining sources of conventional soya and commented on the importance of the country  as an exporter  to international markets where there is strong demand for non-GE products, such as the European. In the brazilian soya sector, there is an expectation that the country  will achieve the position of largest world producer of soybeans in the next seven years.

While on one hand the producers have their right to choose assured, on the other, the consumer’s rights are being put at risk. Established by the Brazilian Biosafety Law, from 2005, the mandatory labeling of GM products suffers recurrent attacks in the National Congress. A pending bill, authored by Congressman Luis Carlos Heinze, seeks to ban on mandatory labeling for products containing in its composition more than 1% of GM ingredients. In addition to this , another bill developed by the House Majority Leader, Candido Vacarezza, advocate for the same proposition  allied to the authorization of the cultivation of plants with the terminator technology, whose seeds are sterile. While farmers rely satisfied, consumers are likely to be blindfolded and devoided from any right of choice.

The Soja Livre initiatives are in accord with commitments made by the Brazilian government in 2006,  during the 8th Conference of the Parties that took place in Brazil. At the time, President Lula declared that the coexistence of non-GE and GE crops would be assured in Brazilian lands . This step is a legacy of his administration for the Brazilian agriculture. However, as the next step and as a message for the government to come, it is essential that society also have their rights guaranteed.