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Brazilian companies steps to secure non- GE status

Brazilian food companies take steps to secure strict non- GE status

Major meat exporter Perdigão bans GE from all products

São Paulo/Amsterdam, 13th September 2002 - One of Brazil’s top food producers and meat exporters, Perdigão, announced it will eliminate genetically engineered (GE) ingredients from all its food products, including meat, and introduce additional mechanisms to ensure its supplies are not genetically contaminated. Over the last few months, Greenpeace has repeatedly asked Perdigão to stop using GE ingredients in food and in animal feed used for its poultry and pork products.

With this commitment of Perdigão, Brazil further strengthens its position as the forerunner in the non-GE market by now also providing non-GE meat for export. Earlier this year, another major Brazilian food producer and meat exporter, Sadia, announced its commitment to non-GE status. Other top food companies committed to non-GE in Brazil include Unilever and Nissin (1).

“The Brazilian food industry has clearly realised that they need to seize this golden opportunity to provide for the rapidly increasing non-GE market. The commitment of companies like Sadia and Perdigão enforce the country’s commitment to non-GE crops,” said Mariana Paoli, Genetic Engineering Campaigner for Greenpeace in Brazil. “It means that, even if GE crops were approved, a large share of the crop production would remain non- GE. This is great news for the vast majority of consumers, both in Brazil and abroad, who want non-GE food.”

Although the import and commercial growing of GE crops is illegal in Brazil (2), smuggling of GE soya seeds from Argentina has brought some genetic contamination into local fields. As the Brazilian Government has so far failed to act to control this contamination, the food industry is enforcing extra measures to secure non-GE supplies. Brazil is anticipated to further capitalise on its market advantage of being the only one of the world’s top three soya producers not allowing GE crops (3).

This year, Greenpeace found GE soya in five products sold by Perdigão in Brazil. In letters to Greenpeace, Perdigão announced that it would review and strengthen its current methods of control for soya and maize, which have not been enough to avoid genetic contamination. The measures will be fully implemented by 1st December 2002. Within Brazil, both Sadia and Perdigão buy and use millions of tonnes of soya and maize. Some of the grains are used to produce food for the Brazilian market, but the major share is used as animal feed for poultry and pork, an increasing share of which gets exported to Europe and Asia (4).

“Brazil joins an increasing number of European food producers who now are responding to the demands of consumers by producing also animal products without GE crops. Brazilian companies are benefiting from the market shift to non-GE animal products in Europe and the growing share of the non-GE markets in Asia. Non-GE policy makes sense not only from environment and health reasons but is economic logic as well,” said Jean- François Fauconnier, markets specialist for Greenpeace International.

Notes

Sadia and Perdigão rank among the largest food companies in Brazil. They are also respectively Brazil’s first and second largest processors and exporters of poultry meat. In 2000, Sadia and Perdigão together accounted for over 20% of the Brazilian broiler production and 50% of Brazilian broiler exports (source: http://www.fas.usda.gov/gainfiles/200104/90680478.pdf) . Sadia and Perdigão are also Brazil’s second and third largest exporters of pork meat, accounting for 29% of the Brazilian pork exports (source : http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=145783649)

In June 2000, a federal judge forbade the commercialisation of GMOs without the prior carrying-out of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Such an EIA is required by the Federal Constitution of Brazil and resolutions of the National Council of the Environment (CONAMA).

The report “The advantages of non-genetically engineered soya and corn for the Brazilian market” can be downloaded from http://www.greenpeace.org/~geneng/reports/gmo/soya_corn.pdf

Brazil is the world’s second largest broiler exporter. Brazil’s broiler exports for 2002 are forecast to increase by 13 percent to 1.4 million tonnes following a 38-percent gain in 2001. Brazil is expected to increase exports to the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the EU (source : http://www.fas.usda.gov/dlp/circular/2002/02- 03LP/broileroverview.html). Brazil is also a significant pork exporter, ranking fourth in the world. After doubling in 2001, Brazilian pork exports for 2002 are forecast at a new record 365,000 tonnes, up another 8 percent from 2001. Brazil is expected to continue to expand exports in the coming years (source : http://www.fas.usda.gov/dlp/circular/2002/02-03LP/porkoverview.html


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