Brazil’s lower house of Congress has endorsed the creation of a framework to legalize biotech seed sales, according to an Associated Press report.
The move would clear the way for biotechnology company Monsanto to sell genetically modified soy seeds in Brazil, where soy production has boomed over the last decade.
The modified seeds were banned in Brazil, but their use has been widespread by Brazilian farmers who use cloned or smuggled versions of the company’s popular Roundup Ready seeds to cut production costs, Associated Press said.
Monsanto has complained for years that it was being robbed of profits from the widespread illicit use of a seed it developed. Environmental campaigners Greenpeace issued a statement decrying the decision and calling on Brazilians to fight “against the corporate strategy of dominating food production.”
But the bill, passed by a vote of 352-60, has already been approved by Brazil’s senate and is expected to be signed into law by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. He has twice approved temporary decrees approving the harvesting of modified soy even though the crops were technically illegal.
Monsanto said on Thursday that it would not comment until Silva signs. Greenpeace said it would lobby for Silva to veto the bill, claiming the commission that would approve GM seeds in Brazil is stacked with a small group of science and technology experts inclined to sanction the seeds and lacks representation from government officials specializing in the environment.