[12/09/07] Brazilian Court Upholds R$1million Syngenta Fine

December 5, 2007, Press Release from Terra de Direitos:

According to the judicial branch, since Iguaçu National Park had a management plan which defined the buffer zone as being within 10 kilometers of the park, the corporation cannot continue its research with genetically modified soy in the area. According to Hon. Vanessa de Lazzarin Hoffman’s decision, “Syngenta’s conduct (producing GMOs within the buffer zone of Iguaçu National Park conservation area), was not an environmental crime under Art. 7 of Law No. 11.460/2007 since it had been revoked by Art. 11 of Law No. 10.814/2003; however, Article 2 of this law (Law No. 11.460/2007) continues to prohibit Syngenta’s conduct.” The Judge also upheld the prohibition on activities involving GMOs at the site.

The area is currently occupied by Via Campesina, which is protesting Syngenta’s attempts to continue its illegal experiments. On October 21st, 2007, when they re-occupied the area, security guards from the NF Security company, contracted by Syngenta, shot MST activist Valmir Mota de Oliveira (known as “Keno”) at point-blank range, killing him. Four other workers were seriously injured.

Background In March of 2006, IBAMA sued and fined various rural property owners, including Syngenta Corp., who were cultivating GMO soy in the areas outlying Iguaçu Park, through the “Free Park” operation. IBAMA’s operation was started because of a complaint filed by Terra de Direitos.

The fines varied from R$ 120,000 to R$ 1 million reais (US $60,000 to US $500,000). The Swiss seeds multinational Syngenta, which brings in around R$ 18.5 billion (approx US $ 9.25 billion) in annual profits, was fined R$ 1 million reais. According to information from non-governmental organization Terra de Direitos, the company is accused of having cultivated experimental GMO soy within an environmental protection area, which is prohibited by Brazilian law. The planting of 123 hectares was done within the buffer zone of Iguaçu National Park, in the municipality of Santa Tereza do Oeste, state of Paraná. One hectare is approximately the size of a soccer field.

The site of Syngenta’s illegal experiments was occupied in March 2006 by families tied to Via Campesina, an organization which organizes peasant movements around the world. The goal of the action was to denounce the company’s attacks on biodiversity. According to Maria Rita Reis, of Terra de Direitos’ legal team, Via Campesina’s encampment reinforced the need to punish the multinational: “The Via Campesina encampment was fundamental in drawing attention to the illegalities committed [by Syngenta] and of the need to punish the company. Certainly, if it hadn’t been for the encampment, the world would have already forgotten about this unlawfulness, and this would be yet another case of impunity.” ~~~~~ Press Release Originally Available @:http://www.terradedireitos.org.br/2007/12/05/justica-mantem-multa-de-1-m...