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[RIO DE JANEIRO] After a stormy debate, a key commission of the Brazilian Congress has approved proposed legislation that would allow food made from genetically modified (GM) crops to be sold in the country.

The vote, which took place on 12 March, was followed by protests from several non-governmental organisations, including Greenpeace, the Institute of Consumer Defence (IDEC), and the Landless Workers' Movement (MST).

Under the proposed legislation, the National Technical Commission for Biosafety (CTNBio) would decide on the commercialising of transgenic crops in Brazil, and have the power to ignore environmental impact studies.

This would mean reducing the influence of the Ministries of Environmental and Health over such decisions. Critics claim that it also conflicts with the Federal Constitution, which requires reports on the environmental impacts of GM crops.

If the proposed legislation is approved by both the full Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, it will be up to the president to decide whether to ratify it. At present, both growing GM crops and commercialising transgenic products are forbidden in Brazil.

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