Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Argentina poised to update seed law

Shares

A long awaited update of Argentina's pioneering seed law may reach the country's legislative floor soon.

The update would provide tighter regulation of the genetically modified (GM) seed market, allowing for more investment from the private sector. Under the current law, farmers can retain GM seeds without paying royalties to the companies that developed them.

Argentina has blazed a trail as one of the world's leading GM crop producers. Several factors contributed to this including agricultural practices that were compatible with the changes necessary to implement GM crops — and a positive government attitude in the 1990s, when it was persuaded that GM crops heralded the "new green revolution".

But now, outdated regulations, and a lack of public investment in research, have allowed  other countries to catch up.

Brazil has now overtaken Argentina to become the world's second largest GM crop producer, just behind the United States. Brazilian scientists have created herbicide-resistant GM soy — something Argentina has been importing and growing since the 1990s. Another problem for Argentina is that farmers' retention of seeds has led to an illegal GM soy seed trade — the 'white trade' — within Argentina and into Brazil and Paraguay.

Critics of the new seed law fear agribusiness's growing influence on the government, whilst proponents say that increased yields from biotech crops have helped keep the "country's ailing economy" going.

But both sides agree that Argentina's early acceptance of GM biotechnology is "a model from which other developing countries can learn important lessons".

Link to full article in Nature Biotechnology

Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.