The administration of Brazil's southern-most state has planned a crackdown on illegal cultivation of soyabean from genetically modified ( gm ) seeds smuggled from neighbouring Argentina.
Adopting a firm stance against the growing demand for gm seeds, the Rio Grande do Sul State has launched a blistering attack on the expanding black market in illegally smuggled soya seeds. "This is a counter-attack against transgenics. Looks like people do not know it's illegal," says Jose Hermeto Hoffman, state secretary for agriculture.
According to industry sources, the gm soyabean seeds that have so far been smuggled into Sao Paulo will cover one million hectares of the state's farmland this year. To battle this menace, the state has taken the assistance of the media to launch a major publicity blitz along with assistance from the people.
Local farmers are being warned against using genetically modified seeds or face punitive measures. Regular broadcasts over the television and radio urge law-abiding farmers to inform the administration of suspicious planting activities in their neighbourhood by dialing 800, a state-sponsored number called 'Dial-Transgenics'. Advertisements in newspapers and billboards warn farmers that the police, in keeping with the federal law, will set ablaze gm crops if they are found.
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