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Reject GE Trees
The CTNBio meeting was rescheduled for the 9th of April. The pro-GMO group decided to permit the commercial development of GE eucalyptus trees in Brazil in spite of more than 100,000 protest letters submitted in opposition to GE trees.
FuturaGene, a biotechnology firm wholly owned by Brazilian pulp and paper company Suzano, has submitted a request for commercial planting of its yield enhanced genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in Brazil.
Suzano/FuturaGene, as well as other companies like Fibria (ex-Aracruz) and ArborGen, have been conducting research and field experiments on GE trees in Brazil for years.
Suzano/FuturaGene´s interest has been to increase the productivity of their tree plantations. They argue that their new GE tree will result in a 20% increase in productivity and by doing so will increase “competitiveness and environmental and socio-economic gains through higher productivity using less land and therefore overall lower chemical inputs and lowered carbon release, as well as making land available for food production or conservation and enhancing the income of outgrowers” (1). These myths do not stand up to real facts and are addressed below.
GE TREES WILL ADD TO THE PROBLEMS CAUSED BY INDUSTRIAL TREE PLANTATIONS, NOT REDUCE THEM
The use of faster growing GE trees in industrial plantations will exacerbate the already well-known negative social and environmental impacts caused by industrial tree plantations while introducing yet further impacts and knock-on effects due to the additional risks inherent to genetic engineering.
Industrial tree plantation companies have long promised that gains in productivity would lead to less land use. This is a myth. In Brazil, for example, where the productivity of monoculture tree plantations per hectare increased from 27 m3/ha/year in the 1980s to 44 m3/ha/year currently, the area covered by plantations has increased from about 4 million hectares at the end of the 1980s to more than 7.2 million hectares today. Historically, there is thus no evidence that in Brazil, increases in productivity led to less land being occupied by industrial tree plantations. A newly formed association, Indústria Brasileira de Árvores (Ibá), representing the Brazilian industrial tree plantation industry states that they intend to double the area of industrial tree plantations to 14 million hectares by 2020.
SUZANO SEEKS TO EXPLOIT NEW MARKETS FOR PLANTATION TREES
Suzano recently opened a new pulp mill in the state of Maranhão with an 1.5 million tons/year capacity. Huge areas of land covered with tree monocultures will be needed to fulfill Suzano’s wood demand for pulp, as well as for an added demand, in particular its plans to explore new uses of its wood with a project in the same state to produce and export wood pellets for energy production, to cofire with coal in the UK. The use of biomass for industrial scale energy production remains highly controversial, and its negative social, environmental and climate impacts have been documented widely. Both the pulp and wood pellet projects aim solely at profiting from new market opportunities, which is the mission of Suzano.
BRAZILIAN PEOPLE AND ENVIRONMENT WOULD PAY THE COSTS
While profits from this expansion accrue to Suzano shareholders, the social, ecological and economic costs as well as increased risk to regional food sovereignty and health will be borne by the Brazilian public, and local communities surrounded by plantations in particular. Many and serious conflicts over access to land already exist, and living conditions of communities surrounded by Suzano’s operations have deteriorated to the point that communities are now struggling to guarantee their food sovereignty and are increasingly at risk of losing their territories (2).
GE CROPS LEAD TO INCREASED APPLICATIONS OF AGROTOXINS
Further, there is no plausible reason to expect that the use of “chemical inputs”, including agrotoxins, will decrease as a result of planting GE trees. On the contrary, it will increase with the increasing occupation of land which is planned to take place and the intensification of growing cycles and the ensuing nutrient depletion of soil and land. Brazil, sadly, is already the world’s leading consumer of agrotoxins, causing injury to hundreds if not thousands of victims per year, putting further strain on already insufficient public health provision. Industrial tree monocultures, lacking biodiversity, and promoted at very large scale, will augment the application of agrotoxins by huge amounts. The argument used by the GE technology lobby that the introduction of GE crops—such as soy and maize—results in less use of pesticides and fertilizers has already been proven to be false. In countries including Brazil, Argentina, and the United States – front-runners in GMO soy & maize production—research has shown not a decrease, but rather an alarming increase in the use of agrotoxins (3).
DAMAGING SOIL AND WATER SUPPLIES
Genetically engineering trees to make them grow faster, while planting them on a continuously expanding portion of the land in ever larger industrial tree plantations, will only lead to further depletion of soil nutrients and fresh water. This is especially true for eucalyptus trees, already notorious for their voracious water consumption, which has been shown to result in the overall drying out of surrounding soils, springs and waterways. Communities living around non-GE tree plantations within and outside of Brazil have already widely reported water shortage and soil depletion. The introduction of faster growing GE Trees will only further aggravate this situation.
Open Letter to CTNBio to reject Genetically Engineered Trees in Brazil
The International Campaign to STOP GE Trees urges the Brazilian government and CTNBio to refuse Futuragene’s plot to plant genetically engineered trees in Brazil.
The Campaign to STOP GE Trees, including Biofuelwatch, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Econexus, Global Justice Ecology Project, Indigenous Environmental Network, World Rainforest Movement, released the following statement in support of the “Open Letter to CTNBio”: The Campaign to Stop GE Trees, an international coalition founded in 2004, supports a global ban on commercial deregulation of genetically engineered trees (also known as genetically modified trees) based on serious concerns about their impacts on biodiversity and human rights. The Campaign supports the position expressed herein, in solidarity with the “Open Letter to CTNBio” from Brazilian and Latin American groups, that calls upon CTNBio to reject the request by the Futuragene corporation for commercial approval of GE trees in Brazil.
The Campaign is joined by 140 organizations from 35 countries/regions that endorse the call for a global ban on the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment, as well as those scientists and organizations that are calling for a moratorium on the release of GE trees until they are proven to have no damaging social or ecological impacts. As no such proof of safety currently exists, but there is significant evidence to the contrary, the release of GE trees must be stopped.
It is, for example, well-documented that increasing the growth rates of plantation trees (as Suzano has done with their genetically engineered eucalyptus trees) results in the rapid expansion of plantations, not the opposite. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization between the years 1990 and 2010, the average yield of wood from plantations doubled, yet the amount of land occupied by those plantations increased over 60% from 97 million to 153 million hectares.
Additionally, in 2008, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Brazil is a signatory, called for the application of the Precautionary Approach regarding GE trees, and a comprehensive and transparent assessment of their long-term social and ecological risks prior to any open release into the environment. If CTN Bio approves the commercialization of the GE eucalyptus in question, this decision would directly contravene decision IX/5(1) of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. <http://www.cbd.
The Conference of the Parties, Urges Parties to:
(r) Reaffirm the need to take a precautionary approach when addressing the issue of genetically modified trees;
(s) Authorize the release of genetically modified trees only after completion of studies in containment, including in greenhouse and confined field trials, in accordance with national legislation where existent, addressing long–term effects as well as thorough, comprehensive, science-based and transparent risk assessments to avoid possible negative environmental impacts on forest biological diversity; /
(t) Also consider the potential socio-economic impacts of genetically modified trees as well as their potential impact on the livelihoods of indigenous and local communities;
(u) Acknowledge the entitlement of Parties, in accordance with their domestic legislation, to suspend the release of genetically modified trees, in particular where risk assessment so advises or where adequate capacities to undertake such assessment is not available;
(v) Further engage to develop risk-assessment criteria specifically for genetically modified trees;
(w) Note the results of the Norway – Canada Workshops on Risk Assessment for emerging applications for Living Modified Organisms (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/4/INF/13)
(x) Welcome the decision of the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol to establish an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Risk Assessment and Risk Management that is also mandated to address the issue of genetically modified trees;
(y) Collaborate with relevant organizations on guidance for risk assessment of genetically modified trees and guidance addressing potential negative and positive environmental and socio – economic impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of forest biodiversity associated with the use of genetically modified trees;
(z) Provide the available information and the scientific evidence regarding the overall effects of genetically modified trees on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity to the Executive Secretary for dissemination through the clearing-house mechanism;
/ Where applicable, risks such as cross-pollination and spreading of seeds should be specifically addressed.
We therefore support the call to CTNBio and the Brazilian government made by Brazilian and Latin American groups to reject the application of Futuragene to commercially plant genetically engineered eucalyptus trees.
The Campaign to STOP GE Trees (International)
Biofuelwatch (US, UK)
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (Canada)
EcoNexus (Europe, UK)
Global Justice Ecology Project (US)
Indigenous Environmental Network (North America)
World Rainforest Movement
Additional Sign ons:
Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI),ALDW Enterprises, Allergy & Asthma Research Centre, Kolkata, Alliance for Global Justice, Alliance for Humane Biotechnology, anti-GMO committee of the Cyprus Federation of Environmental Organizations, Anti-Biomass Incineration Campaign/Energy Justice Network, ASEED Europe, Azafady, Babes Against Biotech, Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation, Beyond Copenhagen Collective, BiofuelwatchBUND – Friends of the Earth Germany, Burning Books, Caerhys Organic Community Agriculture, Caney Fork Headwaters Association, Canopy, Capital R Consulting, LLC, Carbon Trade Watch, CEEweb for Biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON), College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), Cornucopia Network/NJ/TN Chapter, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), CSALT Citizens Seeking Alternatives to Log Terminals, Cumberland Countians for Ecojustice, Dogwood Alliance, Earthcare Books, EcoC2S (EcoCsquaredS), Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Ecological Society of the Philippines, Ecologistas en Accion, Ecoropa Europe, Environmental Paper Network, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Essential Ecology, Everglades Earth First!, Fair World Project, FDCL Forschungs-und Dokumentationszentrum Chile-Lateinamerika e.VFédération SEPANSO Aquitaine, FERN, Find Your Feet, Food & Water Europe, Food & Water Watch, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, Forest Peoples Programme, ForestETHics, Forum Ökologie & Papier, Friends of the Earth Europe, Friends of the Earth Spain, Friends of the Earth Sweden, Friends of the Siberian Forests, Gen-ethical Network, Genetic Engineering Network (GEN), GeneWatch UK, Gestos-HIV, Comunicação e Gênero, Global Forest Coalition/CCRI, Global GMO Free Coalition, Global Health Network, GMO Free Oregon, GMO Free USA, GMO Free Windsor, GMO-Free Oahu, GMWatch, Green Party of the US, Grupo AgrOrganico GAO, Hnutí DUHA – Friends of the Earth Czech Republic, House of Grace, IBON International, Independent Consultancy on Women’s Rights, Institute for Responsible Technology, Institute for Social Ecology, International Tribal Association, J & J Enterprise, Just Forests, KONPHALINDO, Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Land Workers Alliance, Lane County Energy Round-Up, MADGE, Mangrove Action Project (MAP), Markinch, Massachusetts Forest Watch, Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility Of United Church of Christ, NGO Ecosouthwest, Nicaragua Network, Nourish, Scotland, Nourishing Generations Educational Project, Núcleo de Aveiro da Quercus – ANCN, Ogiek People Development Program(OPDP), Ole Siosiomaga Society Incorporated (OLSSI), Organic Consumers Association, Our Forests, OurGreenChallenge.org, PAIRVI, PAN Europe, Partner Suedmexikos e.V. , PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK ASIA AND THE PACIFIC (PAN AP), Pesticide Action Network North America, Plataforma ANdalucía Libre de Transgénicos, Quercus – Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza, Rainforest Relief, REAL Cooperative, Red de Accion por los Derechos Ambientales (RADA), Red de Semillas, “Resembradno e Intercambiando”, REDD Monitor, Reforest the Earth, RENICC, Rettet den Regenwald e.V. (Rainforest Rescue), Robin Wood, Rochester Committee on Latin America, Roots for Equity, Russian Academy of Sciences, Sacramento Label GMOs, Sahabat Alam (Friends’ of the Earth) Malaysia, Salva La Selva, Save America’s Forests, Sierra Club, South Florida Audubon Society, Standing Together to Outlaw Pesticides, Stockholm International Water Institute, Sunray Harvesters, Support for Women in Agriculture in Agriculture (SWAGEN), The Aurora Foundation, The Blue Planet Project, The Corner House, The Council of Canadians, The Haiku Aina Permaculture Initiative, Third World Network, University of Kassel, Washington Biotechnology Action Coalition, World Family, World Temperate Rainforest Network, Yôko Woldering, KoBra e.V.Zelenyi Svit / Friends of the Earth UkraineÈ
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Take Action to Keep the Pressure on Brazil! No GE Trees!
On 5 March, the Brazilian Biosafety Commission (CTNBio) was scheduled to decide whether to approve the commercial release of GE trees developed by FuturaGene. This meeting was cancelled after it was disrupted by activists, and after FuturaGene’s operations were taken over by 1,000 women earlier that same day.
In addition, as part of the 3 March Emergency Day of Action, organizations on four continents went to Brazilian consulates and embassies to demand the rejection of GE trees and show solidarity with those protesting in Brazil.
Now we need your help again. The CTNBio meeting has been rescheduled for the 9th of April. CTNBio might approve this commercial release of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus. That is, UNLESS there’s enough pressure, both nationally and globally, to change their mind.
On 30-31 March, take action in solidarity with Brazilian social movements and organizations to stop the legalization of socially and ecologically destructive GE trees.
- Go to the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate nearest to you (see list of locations at the bottom of this post). Tell them why you’re there. Here’s some photos from the first Day of Action to inspire you!
- Bring signs, banners and some friends. Please use English and/or your home language and Portuguese, if possible. Here are some suggested slogans!
Brazil: No GMO Trees! / Brasil: Não às árvores transgênicas!
Brazil: STOP GMO Trees! / Brasil: Parem as árvores transgênicas!
- Take some photos of you and your group with signs and banners in front of or inside the Embassy or Consulate and send them to us. This is crucial! We’ll include what we get in our press release on the action and any other media we produce.
- Send those photos to our media coordinator, Kip, at either email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org.
- And Tweet your photos and updates from your awesome action using the hashtag #stopgetrees.
Brazilian Embassy and Consulates in the US and Canada
Brazilian Embassy in Washington
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
(+1) 202 238 2700
(+1) 202 238 2827
Brazilian Consulate General in Atlanta
3500 Lenox Road, Suite 800
One Alliance Center
Atlanta, Georgia 30326
(+1) (404) 949-2400
Brazilian Consulate General in Chicago
401 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1850
Chicago, Illinois 60611
(+1) (312) 464 0244
Brazilian Consulate General in Houston
Park Tower North
1233 West Loop South, Suite 1150
Houston, Texas 77027
(+1) (281) 384 4966
Brazilian Consulate General in Los Angeles
8484 Wilshire Boulevard, suite 300
Los Angeles, California 90211
(+1) (323) 651 2664
(+1) (323) 651 1274
Brazilian Consulate General in Miami
80 SW 8th Street, 26th floor
Miami, Florida 33130-3004
(+1) (305) 285 6200
Brazilian Consulate General in New York
225 E 41st St, New York, NY 10017
(+1) (917) 777 7777
Brazilian Consulate General in San Francisco
300 Montgomery Street, suite 300
San Francisco, California 94104
(+1) (415) 981 8170
(+1) (415) 986 4625
Honorary Consulate of Brazil in Fort Lauderdale
2385 N.W. Executive Center Drive, Suite 100
Boca Raton, Florida 33431 , United States
(+1) (561) 210-7192
Honarary Consulate in Seattle
World Trade Center West Building
2200 Alaskan Way, Suite 450
Seattle, WA 98121
Brazilian Consulate in Philadelphia
5415 N. Lawrence Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19120
Mr Paul Thomas Johnson, Consul
(+1) (215) 275-6890
Brazil Honorary Consulate in Salt Lake City
180 S 300 West, Suite 130
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Honorary Consul of Brazil
Brazilian Consulate in San Diego
8047 Caminito Mallorca
La Jolla, California 92037
(+1) (858) 453-8383
1322 E. Louis Way
Tempe, Arizona 85284
Caio Pagano, Consul General
Consulate General of Brazil in Norfolk
500 E Plume Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
Brazilian Consulate in New Orleans
365 Canal Street, Suite 1600
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Mr David Paul Schulingkamp
1256 N. McLean Blvd.
Memphis, Tennessee 38108
Mr Edson P. Peredo, Consul
(+1) (901) 272-6505
Brazilian Consulate in Las Vegas
7205 Madonna Drive
Las Vegas, Nevada 89156
(+1) (702) 350 2999
Mr Luis Antonio de Souza e Silva
Brazilian Consulate in Honolulu
3056 Kalakaua Ave #7W
(+1) (808) 235-0571
Eric Guimaraes Crispin
Brazilian Consulate General in Vancouver
2020-666 Burrard Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2X8
(+1) (604) 696 5311
(+1) (604) 696 5366
Brazilian Consulate General in Toronto
77 Bloor Street West, Suite 1109
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1M2
(+1) (416) 922 2503
(+1) (416) 922 1832
Brazilian Embassy in Ottawa
450 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa
Ontario K1N 6M8
(+1) 613 237 1090
Brazilian Consulate General in Montreal
1 Wood Ave
(+1) (514) 499 0968
Sign On: Tell Brazilian Government to Reject GMO Trees!
Diga o governo brasileiro para rejeitar as árvores trasngénicos Para ler a declaração em Português, clique aqui
Diga al gobierno de Brasil que rechace los árboles transgénicos Para leer la declaración en español, haga clic aquí
Tell Brazil to REJECT Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Trees (closes 8 April)
This petition is now closed.
End date: Apr 08, 2015
Signatures collected: 850
On Thursday 5 March, the Brazilian Biosafety Commission (CTNBio) was scheduled to decide whether to approve the commercial release of GE trees developed by FuturaGene. This meeting was cancelled after it was disrupted by activists, and after FuturaGene’s operations were taken over by 1,000 women earlier that same day.
Now we need your help again. The CTNBio meeting has been rescheduled for the 9th of April.
Sign the petition below to show your solidarity with those fighting GE trees in Brazil, and to tell the Brazilian Biosafety Commission to REJECT GE trees.