Brazilian chickens and a GMO showdown

The following story is, we suspect, one of the major reasons Monsanto and other multinationals are pushing for the TTIP and the TPP, the two big ocean-spanning trade pacts now in the final stages of negotiation and approval.

Both pacts create secret courts where companies can sue nations over regulations that interfere with their ability to maximize the bottom line [nations are denied reciprocal rights].

From Bloomberg:

For Brazil’s enormous chicken industry, facing a surprise domestic shortage of corn with which to feed its birds, the solution seemed obvious: import the grain from the U.S., where stockpiles have never been bigger.

Yet there have been no imports from the U.S. so far this year, even though the corn shortfall is so severe that the chicken producers have cut output by 10 percent in recent months. The companies aren’t buying American grain because they’re concerned that Brazil’s stringent regulations on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, threaten to hold up shipments, according to people familiar with the situation.

The fate of one corn cargo that arrived in Brazil in April illustrates their worries about potentially costly port delays. The shipment was from Argentina, which grows a few varieties of modified corn not allowed in Brazil, and it was initially prevented from unloading, one of the people said. While no rules were broken and the grain was eventually allowed onshore, it took a week for the buyer to convince the authorities that the cargo was legitimate, the person said.

In Brazil — and many other countries — GMOs are a sensitive topic and are the target of campaigning by environmental groups. Modified agricultural commodities must be carefully segregated and port inspections are strict. Brazil allows farmers to grow GMO soybeans and 29 varieties of modified corn. However, there are 43 types of GMO corn grown in the U.S., according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, an industry group.

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