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Brazil's GE-Free Corn Finds Eager Buyers Overseas

Brazil's GE-Free Corn Finds Eager Buyers Overseas

BRAZIL: December 21, 2001


SAO PAULO, Brazil - Brazil's record corn harvest of 42 million tonnes this
season and its reputation for banning genetically modified crops have
pushed the country's corn exports to all time highs, independent grains
analysts Safras e Mercado said this week.


Brazil's 2001/2002 (Feb.-Jan.) net corn exports could reach a record 6.2
million tonnes compared with net imports of 1.8 million tonnes last season,
Safras' corn analyst Paulo Molinhari told Reuters.
"It should be a record volume equivalent to 60 percent of the corn exports
from Argentina, the world's second largest exporter (after the United
States)," said Molinhari.

But Molinhari said exports are unlikely to continue at this level as crop
production should fall next season.

"Depending on the winter corn crop in March, Brazil should ship only about
2 million to 3 million tonnes from the next crop. So much of the corn is
simply consumed internally," he said.

Brazil principal summer corn crop is planted in September and harvested
before March, when the smaller winter crop is planted.

Unlike the soybean crop, of which over 60 percent is exported, most of the
corn crop is consumed by the country's thriving pig and poultry industries,
in some years making Brazil a net importer of corn.

Molinhari pointed out that corn makes up about 70 percent of the country's
livestock feed, which nourishes principally poultry and pig farms but also
serves as supplemental food for Brazil's 170 million cattle, the world's
top commercial herd.

The attractive international price of soybeans has also enticed farmers to
turn over some of their corn fields this season to soy.

The Agriculture Ministry's latest forecast for the new corn crop was 38.8
million tonnes, down 7 percent from this year's output, but the soy crop
should jump 11 percent to 41 million tonnes.

BRAZIL'S GM-FREE CORN WINS PREMIUM

Molinhari added that international buyers have been not only looking to
Brazil for corn preferentially but were also paying a $6 to $7 dollar
premium per tonne over U.S. corn because Brazil's crops were not
genetically modified.

Brazil is one of the last major agricultural producers in the world that
forbids the sale of genetically modified foods or materials, unlike the
United States and Argentina, the world's top two corn exporters.

Although Brazilian farmers are increasingly planting illegal GM soybean
strains smuggled in over the border from Argentina, the local corn crop is
still almost entirely planted from conventional seed, according to analysts.

"Spain should remain the top buyer with more than 770,000 tonnes, then Iran
with 650,000 tonnes, followed by Japan with more than 400,000 tonnes," said
Molinhari as he listed the principal destinations for Brazilian corn abroad
this year.

Brazil's Agriculture Ministry data indicated that 5.99 million tonnes had
been shipped by Dec. 5.

Molinhari said the three international companies Louis Dreyfus, Cargill and
Glencore had handled the bulk of the shipments.

"There is plenty of corn in the United States right now. Japan and Iran can
just as easily look there, but they are turning to Brazil to find GM-free
corn," he said.

Story by Reese Ewing

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

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