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[GRRN] [Fwd: Brazilians trash Monsanto]
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Anti-Davos group, Brazil farmers storm biotech plant
                      By Marco Sibaja

                      NAO ME TOQUE, Brazil, Jan 26 (Reuters) - More than
1,000 poor Brazilian
                      farmers, bolstered by foreign activists from the
international "Anti-Davos"
                      summit, stormed a U.S.-based Monsanto biotech
plant and threatened on Friday
                      to camp out indefinitely to protest genetically
modified (GM) food.

                      Some 1,200 workers from the radical Landless
Workers Movement (MST) invaded
                      the unit owned by the life sciences giant just
before midnight on Thursday in
                      Brazil's southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul,
the center of Brazil's
                      battle over transgenics. The protest was timed to
coincide with a summit in
                      Brazil countering a global business gathering
underway in Davos, Switzerland.

                      With the help of a busload of anti-globalization
protesters from the
                      10,000-strong World Social Forum in Porto Alegre,
the poor farmers yanked out
                      GM corn and soybean crops at the experimental farm
on Friday morning.

                      Hundreds of families and their barefoot children
took over the research
                      center and warehouses, hanging hammocks and
setting up mattresses and boxes
                      of food. They scrawled on the walls, "The seed of
death!" and "Monsanto is
                      the end of farmers!"

                      "We're staying here indefinitely," said Solet
Campolete, a local MST leader.
                      "We want to make a statement ... these seeds trick
farmers and create
                      dependency on seeds produced by a big

                      In the past, MST families have led protests
outside the Monsanto plant but
                      the current protest is the first time they have
invaded the unit.

                      Monsanto said in a statement on Friday it had
requested that local
                      authorities "restore order" at the unit. "Monsanto
regrets this incident in
                      which it was a victim of an aggressive movement,"
the company said in a

                      Monsanto says its lab-enhanced seeds increase
productivity and reduce the use
                      of agrochemicals among other benefits, but
watchdog groups like Greenpeace
                      have opposed the wide-scale use of biotechnology
that they say has not been
                      developed with sufficient environmental and health
impact studies.


                      Back in Porto Alegre, the thousands of union
workers, left-wing intellectuals
                      and environmentalists who opted not to jump on a
bus for a predawn, five-hour
                      trip to participate in the protest, attended
panels at the rival meeting to
                      the World Economic Forum in Davos.

                      The activists attending the "Anti-Davos" forum are
expected to condemn GM
                      food along with a wide range of what they say are
neoliberal policies that
                      have deepened the divide between the rich and

                      In packed conference rooms, African delegates in
purple robes and Indians in
                      orange turbans debated everything from a new-found
socialism to transgenic
                      foods with Brazilian carworkers and French

                      The experimental forum boasts an eclectic guest
list including Nobel prize
                      winning Portuguese writer Jose Saramago, former
French first lady Daniele
                      Mitterrand, East Timor freedom fighter Taur Matan
Ruak and MST leader Joao
                      Pedro Stedile.

                      Stedile and Jose Bove, the French farmer and
leader of the Confederation
                      Paysanne, who catapulted to fame when he trashed
his local McDonald's, were
                      among the honored guests who joined MST protesters
at Monsanto in Nao Me

                      "Monsanto says transgenics require less pesticides
and chemicals, but that's
                      a lie. Transgenics increase dependence on those
products," Bove said.

                      Brazil is the only country in the Western
Hemisphere that attempts to ban the
                      commercial planting, importing or sale of GM food,
but the country does allow

                      Still, the issue has been at the heart of an
ongoing battle between the
                      government and some farmers who have smuggled in
GM seeds from neighboring
                      Argentina. Industry insiders suspect up to a third
of Rio Grande do Sul's
                      soybean crop is GM.

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Gene & Ellie Bluestein

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