Brazil Called upon to Block Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Trees

Forest protection, increased biodiversity and wildlife conservation are just a few of the promises made by proponents of genetically engineered (GE) plants. But campaigners are not buying these promises.On Tuesday, environmental activists gathered in Brazilian consulates and embassies demanding that the government reject the proposal of FuturaGene, a biotechnological company, to legalise GE eucalyptus trees.The action was taken as part of the Emergency Global Day of Action on Four Continents to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, organised by an international group of NGOs which have formed the The Campaign to STOP GE Trees. The campaign aims to protect forests, biodiversity, and support communities which may be threatened by the effects of GE plants in the environment.Campaigners fear that the Brazilian Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio), which regulates genetically modified organisms in Brazil, will accept FuturaGene's request for the legalisation of industrial GE plantation, at a conference which will be held on 5th March in Brasilia.International Coordinator of World Rainforest Movement, Winnie Overbeek, said in a statement: “CTNBio does not have sufficient research on the serious impacts that approval of GE eucalyptus trees could cause to render a decision,” adding that CTNBio held only one public meeting, back in September 2014 in Brasilia, which showed the insufficiency of the existing studies on the issue.“Existing non-GE eucalyptus plantations are already causing serious conflicts over access to land, and living conditions of communities surrounded by them have been destroyed. Approval of GE eucalyptus trees will worsen these problems,” Overbeek concluded.As opposed to the negative picture painted by environmentalists, FuturaGene claims that, “Technology developed by FuturaGene could position Brazil as a new model for the plantation forestry industry. This innovation provides benefits in the social, economic and environmental spheres.” However, activists insist on saying that introducing GE eucalyptus trees plantation would simply worsen the impact on the environment, biodiversity, and indigenous and local communities worldwide.Anne Petermann, International Coordinator of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees, said, “Industry requests to legalise GE Trees are not just being decided in Brazil, but in the U.S. also. And companies in other countries would like to develop GE trees.”The U.S. Department of Agriculture has had the same proposal put to them by a different GE tree company, ArborGen.“Today's day of action shows once more that people around the world reject genetically engineered trees and Brazil must also,” Petermann added.In November 2014, a group of experts, scientists, agronomists, indigenous peoples and foresters met in Paraguay to discuss the rejection of all GE trees, even those in field trials. Recently, this committee has finalised a declaration, the Asuncion Declaration, which has been submitted to the CTNBio.Follow Valentina Ieri on Twitter @ValeieriEdited by Roger Hamilton-Martin

Opinion: Let’s Grant Women Land Rights and Power Our Future

Women are not only the world’s primary food producers. They are hardworking and innovative and, they invest far more of their earnings in their families than men. But most lack the single most important asset for accessing investment resources – land rights.

Tech-Savvy Women Farmers Find Success with SIM Cards

Jawadi Vimalamma, 36, looks admiringly at her cell phone. It’s a simple device that can only be used to send or receive a call or a text message. Yet to the farmer from the village of Janampet, located 150 km away from Hyderabad, capital of the southern Indian state of Telangana, it symbolises a wealth of knowledge that changed her life.

Illegal Wildlife Trade Booms on Chinese Social Media

Despite a major online crackdown on the sale of illegal wildlife products in China, merchants are still peddling their wares in a thriving social media market.

Opinion: It’s Time to Step It Up for Gender Equality

If we look at the headlines or the latest horrifying YouTube clip, Mar. 8 – International Women’s Day – may seem a bad time to celebrate equality for women.

Gaza Reconstruction, Hampered by Israeli Blockade, May Take 100 Years, Say Aid Agencies

Despite all the political hoopla surrounding an international pledging conference in Cairo last October to help rebuild Gaza, the reconstruction of the Israeli-devastated territory is apparently moving at the pace of paralytic snail.

Syrian Conflict Has Underlying Links to Climate Change, Says Study

Was the four-year-old military conflict in Syria, which has claimed the lives of over 200,000 people, mostly civilians, triggered at least in part by climate change?

Environmental Damage to Gaza Exacerbating Food Insecurity

Extensive damage to Gaza’s environment as a result of the Israeli blockade and its devastating military campaign against the coastal territory during last year’s war from July to August, is negatively affecting the health of Gazans, especially their food security.

Opinion: War on Wildlife Crime – Time to Enlist the Ordinary Citizen

It is no exaggeration to say that we are facing a “wildlife crisis”, and it is a crisis exacerbated by human activities, not least criminal ones.

Bamboo – An Answer to Deforestation or Not in Africa?

Deforestation is haunting the African continent as industrial growth paves over public commons and puts more hectares into private hands.

Sometimes a Single Tree Is More Effective than a Government

Every morning, Raj Kumari Chaudhari walks from her home to the other end of Padnaha village, located in the Bardiya district of mid-west Nepal, to a big mango tree to offer prayers.

Natural Disasters Cost Asia-Pacific 60 Billion Dollars, 6,000 Lives in 2014

Natural disasters in Asian and Pacific nations cost almost 60 billion dollars and killed 6,000 people in 2014.

A New Forensic Weapon to Track Illegal Ivory Trade

The wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, is deploying a new forensic weapon - DNA testing - to track illegal ivory products responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of endangered elephants in Asia and Africa.

Opinion: Water and the World We Want

We have entered a watershed year, a moment critical for humanity.

UN at 70: Mega-Cities, Mortality and Migration

As the international community marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, one question worthy of some reflection is: Is world population better or worse off demographically since the establishment of the U.N.?

Next Page »