Hundreds of groups to call on Brazilian government to reject GE trees application by UK-registered company

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Biofuelwatch & Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees press release – for immediate use Thursday 4th September 2014

Hundreds of groups to call on Brazilian government to reject GE trees application by UK-registered company

Social and ecological justice organizations from around the world have signed two letters [1, 2] addressed to the Brazilian government calling on it to reject an application by UK-registered FuturaGene to plant the world’s first commercial-scale genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus plantations. [3] FuturaGene is owned by Brazilian pulp and paper company Suzano, which was exposed last year for causing land conflicts over eucalyptus plantations linked to wood pellet exports to UK biomass power stations. [4]

The letters will be delivered to the Brazilian National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio) [5] in Brasilia later today by representatives of Terra de Direitos [6], The Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) [7], La Via Campesina Brazil [8], and the Small Farmers Movement (MPA) [9] —social movements and organizations that represent hundreds of thousands of people in Brazil. Today’s events will add to the growing movement against the commercialization of GE trees, which campaigners say could have serious negative effects on the environment and biodiversity, local communities, and human and indigenous rights.

Teresa Perez, of World Rainforest Movement [10], and the Campaign to STOP GE Trees [11] said:

“In the letters that we’re delivering today, social movements, scientists, lawyers and organizations from around the world are calling for a global ban on the commercial release of genetically engineered trees, due to their unknown but potentially severe social and ecological impacts and incalculable economic risks, which would overwhelmingly accrue to the public.

The threat posed by the release of GE trees in Brazil, is a warning for everyone in the American continent and peoples of many other countries where companies want to expand large-scale tree monocultures. Companies will benefit from this new and dangerous technology, while communities who already suffer from the negative impacts of monoculture tree plantations, will once again suffer most of the negative social, ecological and economic consequences.”

FuturaGene’s plans to operate highly controversial GE tree plantations on a commercial scale come at a time of rapid expansion of the biomass industry in the UK. Environmental groups fear that a huge new demand for wood will incentivse investment into GE eucalyptus plantations in countries like Brazil. There is already a clear link between UK-based MGT Power, which hopes to build two large-scale biomass power stations in England, and FuturaGene’s parent company, Suzano. In 2010 the two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for future supply of wood pellets which prompted Suzano to invest significantly in new eucalyptus plantations. These plantations resulted in serious conflicts with local communities in North East Brazil.

Dr. Rachel Smolker, US-based Co-director of Biofuelwatch [12] said:

“The case of GE trees in Brazil is highly significant because there is also a request currently pending in the United States by GE tree company ArborGen to commercially release the very first GE trees there. This would be an ecological catastrophe for the Southern US, where they would be planted and would also intensify climate change. [13] The Southern US already supplies millions of tonnes of wood pellets to the UK every year, and the MoU between Suzano and MGT Power shows that UK biomass demand directly impacts markets and communities across the Atlantic. GE trees must be stopped in both Brazil and the US, and the UK must stop fueling demand for imported wood.”

The Steering Committee of the international Campaign to STOP GE Trees includes representatives from Biofuelwatch, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Friends of the Earth Melbourne (AUS), Global Justice Ecology Project, Indigenous Environmental Network, and World Rainforest Movement. [14]

ENDS ENDS ENDS

Media Contacts:

Jay Burney, Media Coordinator, Campaign to STOP GE Trees +1.716.536.5723 (US/English), jay@globaljusticeecology.org

Teresa Perez, WRM (Spanish)

Office number +598 2 4132989

mobile phone +59899614365

teresap@wrm.org.uy

Oliver Munnion, Biofuelwatch Co-Director (UK)

biofuelwatch@ymail.com / oli.munnion@biofuelwatch.org.uk

+44 7917693337

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