You win some and lose some in the biotech bully’s game. Brazil made three GM products legal this past week in a seeming low and groveling curtsey to its fans of genetic modification. The vote was 18 ‘for’ and only 3 ‘against’ poisoning the biosphere more completely.
Not only did Brazil’s National Technical Commission on Biotechnology (CTNBio) approve genetically modified eucalyptus trees, but they also gave a nod to corn and soybeans both made to be tolerant to 2,4-D herbicide.
FuturaGene’s GM eucalyptus trees were given a green light even though 300 peasants and about 1000 women from another activist group attempted to halt the meeting that would give the biotech company permission to plant in March of this year.
Approval for the GM trees was already halted/postponed thanks to activists, but unfortunately it didn’t hold. Both groups opposed the planting GM trees do to the fact that the GM eucalyptus will require more water to grow than regular eucalyptus and they have not been tested properly. Specifically, we don’t know how the transgenes will affect other trees and plants in the areas they will be planted.
One of the few members of the CTNBio who opposed the GM trees was a researcher from the Higher School of Agriculture, Paulo Kageyama. He pointed out a concern for Brazil’s growing water crisis, explaining that even with a reduced growing cycle of 5 years that compares to regular trees’ cycle of 7 years, the GM trees will still require more water to grow.
Another researcher on the panel pointed out the dangers to Brazil’s honey exports if they are contaminated with GM pollen from genetically modified corn and soy.
In favor of the GM trees was professor Hilton Thadeu Couto, mimicking biotech’s claims about Bt toxins prior to their release – which was that the protein produced by the GM eucalyptus would degrade quickly in the intestinal tract of mammals. But this claim is hardly stalwart, since Bt toxins have found not only to remain in the blood of mammals, but also to confound the digestive system until it doesn’t work properly any longer.
Similarly, the herbicide ingredient glyphosate (which is often used instead of 2,4-d), is showing up in blood, urine, and breast milk across the population.
The organization of Landless Rural Workers (MST) commented on CTNBio’s latest decisions in a statement:
“Environmental, social and public health consequences are ignored by CTNBio, as most of its members are in favor of corporate interests.”