MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay and NEW YORK, April 10, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Campaign to STOP GE Trees announced today that the Brazilian Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) formally approved an industry request to release genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees on 9 April despite international outcry against their potential dangers. Groups point out the decision is illegal and are looking into avenues for stopping this GE eucalyptus in Brazil.
The request was made by FuturaGene, owned by Brazilian pulp and paper company Suzano. This is the first approval for commercial release of GE trees in Brazil or Latin America.
In an email from CTNBio member Paulo Paes de Andrade to the Campaign to STOP GE Trees dated 8 April, he stated the decision to approve GE eucalyptus was already made, indicating the 9 April meeting was merely a formality.
He went on to state "...the release of this GM tree is solely a Brazilian question and no other country or group of countries has the right to interfere in our decision."
Geneticist Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, co-Director of EcoNexus and member of the Federation of German Scientists, countered by explaining that their large-scale dispersion of reproductive material means GE trees are likely to cross national borders. This, she points out, violates the 2008 decision on GE trees made by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Brazil is a signatory.
"A review of the scientific literature shows that currently no meaningful and sufficient risk assessment of GE trees is possible. Both scientific literature and in-field experience show that contamination by and dispersal of GE trees will take place," Steinbrecher added.
Winnie Overbeek, International Coordinator of World Rainforest Movement, said CTNBio's approval of GE eucalyptus trees was no surprise. "Over the years, CTNBio has made many decisions in favor of GMO crops in Brazil, ignoring protests from a wide range of groups."
In Brazil, there are also major concerns about the impact of GE eucalyptus on thousands of families that produce honey in the regions where eucalyptus trees are grown. These producers risk losing their international markets if their honey is contaminated by GE eucalyptus pollen.
In spite of the approval, the groups organizing to stop this GE eucalyptus highlight the many recent worldwide actions against GE eucalyptus. On 5 March, 1,000 women from Brazilian social movements occupied FuturaGene facilities in Sao Paulo state, while at the same time 300 peasants organized by La Via Campesina shut down the meeting of CTNBio in Brasilia, where the decision on FuturaGene's GE eucalyptus was to be made. Outside Brazil, global weeks of action were held at Brazilian Embassies and Consulates on five continents, and 100,000 people signed protest letters sent to CTNBio members.
"Our challenge now is to continue to strengthen the global movement against GE trees, in solidarity with Brazilian organizations and social movements," stated Anne Petermann, Coordinator of the International Campaign to STOP GE Trees.
Contact: Kip Doyle, Media Coordinator, Campaign to STOP GE Trees +1.716.931.5833 (office), +1.716.867.4080 (mobile), Email (English)