Farmers in Paraguay are using illegal genetically engineered seeds to such an extent that local seed producers are being driven to halt production of conventional seeds.

Grupo Espirito Santo (GES) said it will stop producing non-GM seed this year, as take-up is so low. Farmers in Paraguay, the third largest soybean exporter in Latin America, are opting to use genetically modified seed to keep costs low. They say that using GM soybean seeds lowers production costs by US$20-40 per tonne, largely because they do not need to spend so much on herbicides.

Nevertheless, the commercial production of GM crops is banned in Paraguay. Reuters indicates that the government is waiting for its powerful neighbour Brazil to give the go-ahead to GM crops before it follows suit.

In the meantime, farmers in Paraguay are buying GM seed illegally from neighbouring Argentina, where it has been approved.