Brazil fines Monsanto $250,000 for misleading ad

A Brazilian court fined US biotech giant Monsanto $250,000 on Wednesday for what a judge said was the company's misleading advertising concerning GM soy.

Monsanto released an advert lauding GM seeds in 2004 -- a time when their use in Brazil was banned -- suggesting that they benefited the environment.

But Judge Jorge Antonio Maurique in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul state, slammed the commercial as "abusive and misleading propaganda," dubbing the scientific benefits of Monsanto's product as "very questionable."

Monsanto can appeal the court ruling but a representative refused to comment on the decision issued on Wednesday, saying the company was awaiting official court notification of the ruling before considering its next steps.

The first GM soy seeds were illegally smuggled into Brazil from neighboring Argentina in 1998 when their use was officially banned and subject to prosecution.

The ban has since been lifted and 85 percent of Brazil's soybean crop (25 million hectares or 62 million acres), is now genetically modified, making Brazil the world's second producer and exporter, behind the United States.

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