Brazil Activists Vandalize Monsanto Farm
© 2008 The Associated Press
SAO PAULO, Brazil — Activists opposed to genetically modified crops invaded an experimental farm owned by Monsanto Co. on Friday, destroying a greenhouse and a field of corn.
About 300 members of the Via Campesina rural farm workers group vandalized the company’s property before dawn and then left the premises, the group said in a statement.
Monsanto, a worldwide leader in genetically modified seed development, denounced the invasion and vandalism as “illegal acts.”
Differences of opinion over genetically modified crops “should be expressed through legal means and freedom of expression, not by attacks against people and individuals,” Monsanto said in a statement. The company did not immediately disclose the cost of the vandalism.
The invasion happened four days after hundreds of members of the same group invaded a corporate tree farm owned Swedish-Finnish paper maker Stora Enso near Brazil’s border with Uruguay to protest the planting of trees that are harvested to make pulp.
In that case, police fired rubber bullets to oust the demonstrators, triggering a series of protests throughout southern Brazil that they had employed excessive force.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in the invasion of the Monsanto farm about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city.
Via Campesina said the Monsanto invasion was a protest against approval by Brazil’s government last month for two strains of genetically modified corn, one produced by U.S.-based Monsanto and the other made by Germany’s Bayer AG.
“The authorization of these strains shows, once again, that the government of (President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva) has made a political choice in favor of agribusiness and big foreign agriculture companies,” the group said.
Via Campesina says expanded use of genetically modified seeds harms Brazil’s environment and makes it difficult for poor farmers to compete with the nation’s rich landowners and agribusiness companies.