La Via Campesina occupies an area planted with illegal transgenic seeds in Paraná

2006-03-15 00:00:00

On Tuesday morning (March 14), around 1000 small farmers and
peasants from La Via Campesina movement occupied a field in
Santa Teresa do Oeste (PR) where the transnational seed
corporation Syngenta Seeds is growing experimental seeds. The
peasants denounced the illegal activity of experimenting with
transgenic seeds in the area, an activity that has already
been confirmed by the National Institute for the Environment
and for Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), located in the
“absorbing” zone of Iguaçu National Park.

According to Article 11 of Law 10.814/2003 (which establishes
rules for the planting and trade of genetically modified soy
in the harvest of 2004), the practice constitutes an
environmental crime, because “the planting of transgenic soy
seeds is forbidden in the area of conservation and in the
respective absorbing zones”.

On March 8, IBAMA carried out an inspection in the
corporation’s experimental field and verified the illegal
existence of around 12 hectares of genetically modified soy
planted in the area near the park. The action was informed by
an earlier accusation that had been presented by peasants and
by the Terra de Direitos group to the environmental agency.

La Via Campesina denounces the criminal conduct of the
Syngenta corporation and the threat of damages to the area of
environmental preservation. The park where the Iguaçu Falls is
located was declared a Patrimony of Humanity by the UN Agency
for Education, Science, and Culture (UNESCO).

With respect to the serious environmental crime committed by
Syngenta, La Via Campesina and its fraternal groups demand:

1. The immediate interdiction, embargo and prohibition
of Syngenta’s activities in the area.

2. Criminal, civil, and administrative charges against the
corporation and its directors, with the application of
all suitable fines.

3. Criminal, civil, and administrative charges against the
members of the National Technical Commission on
Biosecurity that authorized these experiments in an
outlawed area;

4. Rigorous inspection by IBAMA in all the “absorbing” zones
of Iguaçu National Park..

Environmental Crimes

The Syngenta corporation is responsible for the largest case
of genetic contamination in the world. The corporation
criminally sold Bt10 corn as Bt11, without authorization for
four years in the United States. The transgenic corn of
Syngenta was not evaluated by the regulating agencies nor were
its effects on human health or on the environment. The seeds
that were sold contaminated the corn exported to various

The Monsanto corporation also was charged by IBAMA in at least
two experimental fields in Brazil; one located in Rolândia,
the other in Ponta Grossa. In these two cases alone, Monsanto
paid environmental fines of $R 2 million.

While the large transnational corporations privatize seeds and
destroy the environment, it is up to the peasants and small
farmers to denounce the crimes and to struggle in defense of
biodiversity, especially for the protection of native seeds.
In this struggle, the strategy of the corporations has been to
invert logic and to criminalize the peasants and small farmers
who organize and oppose the powerful economic and political
interests of these corporations. An example of this: about a
week ago, Monsanto asked for preventative jailing of a
landless worker, in relation to the occupation of an
experimental area with a series of illegal experiments in 2003
in Ponta Grossa.

Given this situation, La Via Campesina is publicly denouncing
the criminalization of the social movements to cover up the
illegal conduct of these transnationals that threaten
biodiversity and the rights of future generations with
incalculable damages.