Brazilian vice president Jose Alencar said yesterday [Wednesday] that he would lift a ban on transgenic crops.

The decree extends a temporary ruling legalising the sale of GM soy from the current harvest, and comes despite vociferous protest from environmental campaigners and lobbyists. Standing in for president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, Alencar's decree comes just in time for the October planning, commented the New York Times. It is expected to smooth the path for legislation that will be submitted to Congress later this year.

Brazil is the world's second-largest exporter of soybeans, behind the US. While there is an official ban on planting or selling GM crops or food, many farmers have done so nonetheless. They have used seeds smuggled in from Argentina. It is estimated that as much as 30% of Brazil's soy is grown from black market GM seeds. In areas close to the border with Argentina, this figure is closer to 70%, the paper reports.