Irradiation in Brazil, Fruit Basket of the World

A deal was struck in 2001 between Tech Ion Industrial Brasil and SureBeam, a subsidiary of the U.S. defense contractor Titan Corporation, to build a network of food irradiation facilities throughout Brazil. Once fully constructed, this joint venture will be one of the largest irradiation networks in the world.

Tech Ion's partner, SureBeam, has also clinched deals to build irradiation facilities in Australia, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. It has announced that it is focusing its expansion efforts in Latin America and Asia. SureBeam is currently being investigated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for false advertising because it deceives consumers by calling irradiation "electronic pasteurization."

Tech Ion is investing US $41 million in its Manaus irradiation facility and will receive US $18 in tax cuts from the Amazonas state government.

There are currently 11 irradiation facilities in Brazil, and another 21 in the planning and construction stages. Tech Ion is building food irradiation centers in many of Brazil's major agricultural areas. The locations of these irradiation plants include Manaus, AM; Bel?m, PA; Cuiab?, MT; Juazeiro, BA; Paul?nia, SP; Sa? Paulo, SP; Rio de Janeiro, RJ; and Itaja?, SC.

In addition, a joint venture between Brazilian Resources Inc. and Securefoods Inc. has claimed that it will develop five irradiation plants in Brazil. This appears to have been a false claim made by a disgruntled ex-employee of Tech Ion who was trying to hurt its business. Tech Ion took legal action against Securefoods.com in 2001 for infringing on its registered name and internet domain and for copying its material.

Brazil has the most liberal food irradiation legislation in the world. Any food can be irradiated in Brazil, at any dose, and for any reason. This precedence is serving as justification for the weakening of food irradiation laws around the world.

Eight types of food are currently being irradiated for commercial use in Brazil, including wheat, grains, flour, and pulses, which are being irradiated in the facility in Manaus. The irradiation industry intends to irradiate tropical fruits for export to the Global North, as well as other fruits and vegetables. This will threaten the livelihood of small farmers and food distributors.

Tech Ion has an office in Washington, D.C., from which it can lobby the U.S. government on irradiation laws. Tech Ion has submitted formal comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in support of a draft regulation that would allow the irradiation of imported fruits and vegetables. Jos? Medeiros, President of Tech Ion, wrote to the USDA, "after this regulation is finalized, we look forward to being the first, or at least one of the first, to begin exporting fruits to the U.S."

The contact information for Tech Ion Industrial Brazil is: Av. 9 de Julho, 5966, 1 Andar, Sa? Paulo, SP 01406-200; Telephone number 11-3064-7366; Fax number 11-3064-1060; website: www.techion.com.br

The contact information for Brazil's representative to the International Consultative Group on Food Irradiation is: Dr. Luiz Carlos de Oliveira, Secret?rio de Defesa Agropecu?ria M?dico Veterin?rio, Minist?rio da Agricultura e do Abastecimento, Esplanada dos Minist?rios, Bloco D, Anexo ? 4 Andar; Telephone 61-226-9771/218-2314; Fax 61-224-3995, Email luizcarlos@agricultura.gov.br