For Immediate Release

5 March 2018
More than One Thousand Women Take Over Suzano Pulp & Paper Mill to Protest Genetically Engineered Trees and Eucalyptus Plantations
More than one thousand women from the Rural Landless Workers Movement (MST) took over a pulp mill owned by Suzano Paper company in Mucuri, in Bahia, Brazil [1] to protest the company’s large-scale, industrial eucalyptus plantions and future plans for genetically engineered (GE) trees.
The women cited the impacts on water caused by the plantations, including depletion of critical fresh water resources and contamination of water by aerial spraying of toxic agrochemicals on the plantations as reasons for the protest.
Women of the MST and other social movements in Brazil have previously taken action against genetically engineered trees on many occasions in Brazil and the MST has previously stated that they will never allow GE trees to be planted on a large-scale in Brazil. [2]

Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), which coordinates the international Campaign to STOP GE Trees stated:

“GJEP has worked in solidarity with the MST in Brazil to stop the use of GE trees there since 2006.  We strongly oppose Brazil’s outrageous decision in 2015 to legalize genetically engineered eucalyptus trees.  Brazil’s irresponsible approval of this experimental tree is not only dangerous to forests and communities, but illegal. The MST are protesting some of the real consequences of the promotion of genetically engineered trees, the replacement of biodiversity with lifeless monocultures and the arrogance of multinationals as they disregard the rights of Indigenous and rural populations to clean water and clean soil.

“Today’s action is a clear sign that the fight to stop GE trees in Brazil is far from over,” she added.
The Brazilian Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) on 9 April 2015 ruled that Suzano’s subsidiary FuturaGene could legally sell and plant GE eucalyptus trees [3].  On the morning of 5 March, the original day of the CTNBio hearing on the issue, thousands of women from the MST and other social movements invaded a FuturaGene greenhouse [4] and destroyed the GE eucalyptus seedlings growing there.  Later that day, hundreds of members of La Via Campesina occupied and shut down the CTNBio hearing [5], forcing the meeting to be delayed one month.

In a Campaign to STOP GE Trees press release [6] addressing this decision to legalize GE trees in 2015, Geneticist Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, co-Director of EcoNexus and member of the Federation of German Scientists stated,

“Regulation of GE trees at a national level will not be sufficient. The large-scale dispersion of reproductive material means GE trees are likely to cross national borders, and even continents given the extent of human activity, trade and travel,” adding, “A review of the scientific literature shows that currently there is insufficient data and understanding for meaningful risk assessments of GE trees. Both scientific literature and in-field experience show that contamination by and dispersal of GE trees will inevitably take place… this is an international matter, both scientifically and judicially.”
Since the original campaign was launched in 2000, actions against genetically engineered trees have taken place across the world demanding a ban on the planting of GE trees.  In 2008, the UN Convention on Biodiversity reaffirmed the need [7] to take a precautionary approach with regard to GE trees, indicating that GE trees should not be commercially developed until proven safe–which has never occurred.
The USDA is currently considering a petition by GE tree company ArborGen requesting permission to sell hundreds of millions of GE eucalyptus seedlings across the Southeastern U.S.  In response, more than 280,000 comments were submitted [8] to the USDA demanding they reject GE trees. A decision from the USDA is expected sometime in the next year.
Contact: Steve Taylor, Press Secretary, Global Justice Ecology Project, +1.314.210.1322