A cargo of Argentine corn purchased by Brazilian poultry and pig farms tested positive for genetically modified (GM) material and may not enter Brazil, the Agriculture Ministry said last week. Last week, ministry analysts tested samples taken from the 38,000-ton cargo, originally shipped by the Uruguayan subsidiary of private U.S. grain giant Cargill, and detected certain proteins that prove transgenic alteration.
The vessel carrying the corn was not permitted to unload its cargo at the northern Brazilian port of Recife, capital of Pernambuco state, and has been lying offshore while the government team conducted its DNA tests over a number of days.
"I sent a fax to the ministry representative advising him not to allow the ship into port so the importer would have the option of returning or exporting the grain to another country," said ministry department chief Luiz Carlos de Oliveira.
Brazil outlaws the growing and marketing of genetically altered grains while neighboring Argentina, its largest trading partner and ally in the Mercosur bloc, is a major producer of GM corn
Brazil, which cites environmental and human health concerns for its opposition to GM, is the hemisphere's last major competitor to the United States not to follow it down the transgenic trail.
Despite growing more than 30 million tons of its own corn a year, Brazil still imports to meet internal demand. This year, due to a drought over the southern farmlands, demand is expected to exceed supply by at least two million tons.
This corn was bought for use as animal feed by the Brazilian poultry industry, the world's largest, which along with its pig industry is the country's largest corn consumer.