GM maize: Argentine province rejects Monsanto's EIA report

A major setback for world’s largest agro biotech

By Jyotika Sood
Published: Friday 28 February 2014

The growing concern over genetically modified crops seems to have gripped Argentina as well. In a recent development, the local authorities in Cordoba province rejected the environmental impact assessment (EIA) submitted by Monsanto, one of the world’s largest agro biotech companies, for its US $192 million maize seed production plant. The project was on hold since September following protests.

Cordoba governor Jose Manuel de la Sota was quoted by media, saying, “Mosanto’s environmental impact assessment didn’t identify the relevant impacts and resulting mitigation measures.”

Monsanto to seek fresh approval

The company has accepted the findings and that too at a time when 30 per cent of its plant construction is complete. It said it would move a fresh application addressing all the concerns and it would take one to two months for it, as it would analyse resources like air, water and soil at the site. The new plant is being built in Malvinas district and has a projected capacity to produce 3.5 million bags of corn seed a year as announced in 2012. The company already has a similar seed plant in Buenos Aires province.

Notably, Argentina is one of the world’s largest growers of genetically modified crops like soybean and corn. It is the third largest exporter of these crops after the US and Brazil. The country has already been growing glyphosate-resistant soybean developed by the company for over a decade now. Almost the entire soybean grown in Argentina is based on Monsanto technology, which the company also tried to patent but had failed.

Public cries foul

The country has already been facing a lot of problem due to weeds becoming resistant to glyphosate, which is forcing farmers to use a cocktail of more powerful herbicides to protect their crops.

The company has been facing loud protests and resistance due to its patent regime that makes it mandatory for farmers to buy seeds every year, making it difficult for them to reuse previous year seed. These are contrary to Argentine laws that allow farmers to plant seeds from previous year to and not making it mandatory to buy seeds every season. The setback comes at a time when Monsanto was planning to introduce its second-generation soybean seed that combines herbicide and pest resistance.


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