SAO PAULO (B)--The Brazilian Agricultural Research Institute (EMBRAPA) and the Parana State Cooperatives Association (OCEPAR) have signed a deal with Monsanto allowing them to research genes in some of the U.S. company's genetically modified (GMO) soybeans. The organizations will conduct research into the genes, but hold rights to sell GMOs only if Brazil's courts allow.

According to Fernando Paiva of EMBRAPA, the gene should be initially used in internal studies. He said that, in his opinion, the commercial sale of GMO soybeans would be approved within the next three to four years.

The Brazilian organizations will be specifically researching a gene, isolated by Monsanto, that makes soybeans resistant to glifosato, a key element in Monsanto herbicides.

EMBRAPA and OCEPAR hold 80% of the Brazilian soybean seed market while Monsanto has a 20% stake.

The marketing of GMO soybeans has been blocked by a Brazilian court injunction ahead of an environmental impact study. The form of the impact study has yet to be decided, but experts said it could take two to three years to be completed.

According to the government, there are 700 requests for GMO certification in Brazil, of which Monsanto's Roundup Ready was the first.

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