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Biotech Protesters Camp Out at Swiss-Owned Farm in Brazil

Hundreds of farm workers have camped out at a Swiss-owned research farm in southern Brazil, alleging the company is illegally experimenting with research into genetically modified crops.

The protest began Tuesday when the demonstrators in the state of Parana broke down the gate to the property. The company that owns the farm - Syngenta - denies breaking any laws and says it is talking with authorities about legal action to end the sit-in.

The incident marks the second time in a week that protesters have targeted agribusiness in Brazil. Last week, about 2,000 people marched on a plantation in southern Brazil that harvests a crucial plant used in the production of paper.

The demonstrators say the invasion at the plantation, owned by Aracruz, was staged to denounce the mass cultivation of eucalyptus and other trees. The pulp from these plants produces cellulose, the main ingredient in paper.

Environmentalists and small farmers say the pulp ruins the soil, dries up the rivers and causes pollution. Aracruz said the raid cost $400,000 in damages and the loss of years of genetic plant research, which could lead to the loss of millions of dollars.

The raids were organized by the international farm workers rights group, Via Campesina.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.