Argentina: provincial court blocks Monsanto facility

Judges in Córdoba City, the capital of the central Argentine province of Córdoba, issued an order on Feb. 25 suspending construction of a corn seed-drying plant by the Missouri-based biotech giant Monsanto Company. Provincial Labor Court judges Silvia Díaz and Luis Farías cited potential "environmental risks" as a basis for the suspension, which was in response to an appeal by the Argentine Law Foundation Club. The company plans to build the 27-hectare facility at a cost of $300 million in Malvinas Argentinas, a working-class suburb located 14 km from the provincial capital. Malvinas Argentinas residents are demanding a referendum on the planned construction and have held protest marches, including one on Feb. 21. (La Mañana de Córdoba, Feb. 21; Télam, Argentina, Feb. 25, via Terra.ar; MercoPress, Montevideo, Feb. 27)

In related news, Monsanto announced on Feb. 26 that it would suspend collection of royalties for the use of its genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready soybean seeds in Brazil while it seeks to extend its Brazilian patent on the technology to 2014. Brazil's Superior Court of Justice (STJ) ruled against the firm the previous week, but Monsanto said it planned to appeal to the Supreme Federal Court (STF). Brazil, the world's second-largest soybean exporter, is a major market for Monsanto. (Reuters, Feb. 26)

Soybean farmers in Paraguay, the fourth-largest soybean exporter, are also opposing a Monsanto patent extension, but on Feb. 19 Judge Miguel Angel Rodas rejected their request for emergency action against the firm. About 95% of the beans produced in Paraguay contain Roundup Ready. Meanwhile, de facto president Federico Franco has authorized sale of Monsanto's Intacta RR2 Pro seeds, which are supposed to protect crops from caterpillars. (Thomson Reuters News & Insight, Feb. 19)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 3.

See our last post on the struggle against GMOs.