“Transgenic destroy biodiversity”

Latin America Press

Women from the Landless Workers Movement (MST) destroyed thousands of genetically modified eucalyptus sprouts due to environmental hazards.

Hundreds of women from the Landless Workers Movement (MST), armed with sticks and knives, entered on Mar. 5 a pulp mill belonging to the company Suzano/FuturaGene in the state of São Paulo and destroyed thousands of sprouts of transgenic eucalyptus trees cultivated in a greenhouse.

Simultaneously, other 300 MST women occupied the National Bio-safety Committee (CNTBio) offices in Brasilia, the capital. The instance, dependent on Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, would decide that same day to allow the cultivation of transgenic trees.

The action was part of the National Day of Struggle of Rural Women. In the walls the woman wrote “Transgenic destroy biodiversity” and “Women fighting”.

Atilana Brunetto, from the MST national directorate, explained that although transgenic species have a 20 percent higher productivity than traditional plants, requires the use of more water and pesticides for each tree, which means greater risks for the environment.

“The most important thing is that we brought the debate to society,” she said.

Suzano/FuturaGene lamented the destruction of plants and studies that were developed for 14 years.

“The product is safe for society and the environment,” said José de Melo, Suzano/FuturoGene’s operations manager. “The losses were quite considerable and many years of technological development were lost.”

The company’s strategic approach is to increase the competitiveness of biomass coming from forests planted principally to supply pulp, paper, bio-energy, and bio-fuel demand. Eucalyptus and poplars are the main crops that FutureGene develop.

Honey in danger
For the MST, the increase of productivity resulting from planting transgenic eucalyptus will affect the national production of honey besides the potential environmental and health problems.

Brazil is the tenth largest producer of honey, allocating 50 percent of the production for export.

“The pollen of transgenic eucalyptus has the gene artificially inserted, this means that any honey produced in hives by bees which pollinate flowers of transgenic eucalyptus is also contaminated by the genetically modified organism (GMO). The detection of GMOs in honey can generate socioeconomic damage to beekeepers, preventing them to label their products as organic or agro ecological, increasing the risk of trade barriers for export of the product, which may represent significant economic losses for the industry,” the MST said in a statement released on Mar. 2.

Moreover, the movement explained that another effect of GMOs is the large amounts of pesticides, as sulfluramide, these plants need. This chemical is classified as one of the most carcinogenic and is banned in 152 countries. Finally, the MST said the rapid growth of this species, in five years instead of seven, would implicate a higher water consumption which would lead to the desertification of soils.

“Once again commercial interests overlap with the interests of consumers, protection of the environment and the health of the population,” the MST said. “For that reason we demand [the authorities] cancel the request to authorize the commercialization of this GMO considering the high risks related to economic losses for beekeeping, genetic pollution and other hazards.” —Latin America Press.