Using the power of photojournalism to expose social, economic and ecological injustice

they are complicit in the continuing war on ecosystems & peoples’ livelihoods – so bring on the Apocalypse!

Alarmingly, but not surprisingly, Brazil approved an industry request (FuturaGene) to release genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees on 9 April 2015. Despite protests (like the video in this post), and valid concerns from a wide range of groups of society including protest letters signed by more than 100,000 people and demonstrations on five continents at Brazilian Embassies and Consulates – Brazil’s greed or stupidity, or both, trumped sanity.

This is an amazing very short direct action video Mulheres contra o eucalipto transgênico! (Women against transgenic eucalyptus!) by Brigada de Audiovisual Eduardo Coutinho (Audiovisual Eduardo Coutinho Brigade). After the video is a press release from the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees.

The action in the video occurred on 5 March 2015, when about 1,000 women from several rural and urban social movements occupied the operations of FuturaGene in Brazil’s São Paulo state.

Personally as a concerned photographer, I am impressed with videoography by Brigada de Audiovisual Eduardo Coutinho. As usual, the media conglomerates do not allow this type of documentation to be presented to the general populace.

Despite the protests and outrage, FuturaGene wins round one. But as Brazilians say: “A Luta Continua! – The struggle continues!”

Enjoy the video.

And now for the press release:

Brazil govt approves GMO eucalyptus trees: Groups denounce illegal decision

(português abaixo: Árvores geneticamente modificadas são aprovadas no Brasil: bom sendo e precaução Ignorados)

GMO Trees Approved in Brazil in Violation of National Law and International Protocols

Common Sense & Precaution Ignored

Montevideo, UY and New York, US (9 April 2015) – Today the Brazilian Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) formally approved an industry request to release genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees.  The application was made by FuturaGene, a company owned by Brazilian pulp and paper company Suzano. This is the first approval for commercial release of GE trees in Brazil or Latin America. Organizations in Brazil are exploring legal avenues to stop the commercial release of GE eucalyptus trees, pointing out that this decision violates national law.

An email from CTNBio member Paulo Paes de Andrade to the Campaign to STOP GE Trees dated 8 April, stated that the decision to approve GE eucalyptus was already made, indicating that today’s meeting was merely a technicality where FuturaGene’s request would be rubber stamped.

World Rainforest Movement’s International Coordinator Winnie Overbeek stated, “CTNBio’s approval of GE eucalyptus trees was no surprise. Over the years, CTNBio has made many decisions in favor of releasing GMO crops in Brazil, ignoring – as also happened in this case – protests and valid concerns from a wide range of groups of society. They also ignored protest letters signed by more than 100,000 people.”

He continued, “The Commission systematically disregards the precautionary principle, including the urgent need for detailed studies of the various impacts of this dangerous technology, even though this violates the 2008 decision on GE trees made by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD), to which Brazil is a signatory.”

In his email, Paulo Paes de Andrade of CTNBio discounted the decision of the UN CBD, which he incorrectly referred to as the Cartagena Protocol, stated, “Trans-boundary movement of transgenic eucalyptus plantlets or seeds is highly improbable and accidental seed propagation elsewhere is even more improbable…Therefore the release of this GM tree is solely a Brazilian question and no other country or group of countries has the right to interfere in our decision.”

Geneticist Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, co-Director of EcoNexus and member of the Federation of German Scientists countered by explaining, “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. The CBD decision was taken in the understanding of the risk to global forest ecosystems – and this is an international matter, both scientifically and judicially.”

In Brazil, there are also major concerns about the impact of GE eucalyptus trees on the thousands of families that produce honey in the regions where eucalyptus are planted. These families risk losing the international markets for their honey if it is contaminated by GE eucalyptus pollen.

On Wednesday, the Brazilian Forum to Combat Agrotoxins, coordinated by the Public Prosecution Service and with participation of relevant groups and civil society, government and academia, warned that CTNBio has repeatedly violated the National Brazilian Policy of Biosafety.

In spite of the approval, the coalition of groups organizing to stop GE eucalyptus, are highlighting the many worldwide actions that have taken place against legalizing GE eucalyptus. In Brazil, organizations and activists mobilized to denounce the release during a public hearing on FuturaGene’s request last September in Brasilia.

More recently, on 5 March 2015, about 1,000 women from several rural and urban social movements occupied the operations of FuturaGene in Brazil’s São Paulo state. At the same time, 300 peasants organized by La Via Campesina occupied and shut down the meeting of CTNBio in the country´s capital, where the decision on FuturaGene’s GE eucalyptus was supposed to be made. Outside Brazil, global weeks of action were organized at Brazilian Embassies and Consulates on five continents against the release of the GE eucalyptus of FuturaGene.

“Our challenge now is to continue to strengthen the movement against GE trees, in solidarity with Brazilian organizations and social movements, and also worldwide,” stated Anne Petermann, Coordinator of the International Campaign to STOP GE Trees. She added, “During the occupation of the FuturaGene operations on 5 March, A woman from the Brazilian MST pointed out ‘… this model of agribusiness is the model of death, not of life,’ and ‘… we are here to defend a model of life, defend food sovereignty, and defend agrarian land reform.”

As Brazilians say: “A Luta Continua! – The struggle continues!”

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees is an international alliance of organizations mobilized to protect forests and biodiversity and to support communities threatened by the dangerous release of genetically engineered trees into the environment. Global Justice Ecology Project coordinates the Campaign.


Kip Doyle, Media Coordinator, Campaign to STOP GE Trees +1.716.931.5833 (office),+1.716.867.4080 (mobile), [email protected] [English]

Teresa Perez, World Rainforest Movement, +59824132989 (office), +598.9961.4365 (mobile),[email protected] [Spanish, English]


Árvores geneticamente modificadas são aprovadas no Brasil: bom sendo e precaução Ignorados

Decisão viola leis nacionais e protocolos internacionais

Montevidéu, Uruguai, e Nova York, Estados Unidos (9 de abril de 2015) – A Comissão Técnica Nacional de Biossegurança (CTNBio) se reuniu hoje e aprovou formalmente uma solicitação da indústria para liberar uma árvore de eucalipto geneticamente modificada (GM), feita pela empresa FuturaGene, de propriedade da empresa brasileira de papel e celulose Suzano. Esta é a primeira aprovação de liberação comercial de árvores transgênicas no Brasil e na América Latina. Organizações do Brasil estão considerando a possibilidade de entrar na justiça para impedir a liberação de árvores transgênicas, que viola a legislação nacional.

Em um e-mail do membro da CTNBio Paulo Paes de Andrade à Campanha para Deter as Árvores Transgênicas (STOP GE Trees), datado de 8 de abril, ele disse que a decisão de aprovar o pedido da FuturaGene já tinha sido tomada, indicando que a reunião oficial de hoje era pouco mais que uma questão técnica onde o pedido seria confirmado.

“O fato de que a CTNBio aprovou a liberação de eucaliptos transgênicos não surpreende. Ao longo dos anos, a CTNBio tem tomado muitas decisões em favor da liberação de cultivos transgênicos no Brasil, ignorando – como também aconteceu neste caso – os protestos de uma ampla gama de grupos da sociedade. Eles também ignoraram cartas de protesto assinadas por mais de 100.000 pessoas disse Winnie Overbeek, Coordenador Internacional do Movimento Mundial pelas Florestas Tropicais.

“A Comissão também desconsidera sistematicamente o princípio da precaução, inclusive a necessidade urgente de estudos detalhados sobre os vários impactos dessa tecnologia perigosa, mesmo que isso viole a decisão de 2008 acerca de árvores transgênicas, tomada pela Convenção sobre Diversidade Biológica da ONU, da qual o Brasil é signatário.”

Em sua carta, Paulo Paes de Andrade, da CTNBio, ignorou a decisão da CDB da ONU, que chamou incorretamente de Protocolo de Cartagena (uma entidade diferente), afirmando: “… a liberação desta árvore geneticamente modificada é um problema apenas do Brasil, e nenhum outro país ou grupo de países tem direito de interferir em nossa decisã”.

“A regulação de árvores em nível nacional não será suficiente, pois, devido à grande dispersão de materiais reprodutivos, as árvores transgênicas provavelmente atravessarão as fronteiras nacionais”, explicou a geneticista Dra. Ricarda Steinbrecher, codiretora de EcoNexus e membro da Federação de Cientistas Alemães. “Uma revisão da literatura científica mostra que, atualmente, não é possível fazer uma avaliação de risco significativa e suficiente das árvores transgênicas. Tanto a literatura científica quanto a experiência de campo mostram que a contaminação por árvores transgênicas e sua dispersão vão acontecer”. A decisão da CBD foi tomada a partir do entendimento do risco aos ecossistemas florestais globais – e esta é uma questão internacional, tanto em termos científicos quanto em termos políticos”.

No Brasil, também há grandes preocupações com o impacto dos eucaliptos transgênicos sobre as milhares de famílias que produzem mel no país, nas regiões onde os eucaliptos serão plantados. Esses produtores correm o risco de perder sua certificação orgânica e/ou seus mercados internacionais se o mel for contaminado por pólen de eucaliptos transgênicos.

Na quarta-feira, o Fórum de Combate aos Agrotóxicos, coordenado pelo Ministério Público e com a participação de importantes grupos e setores da sociedade civil, governo e academia, alertou que a CTNBio tem violado repetidamente a Política Nacional de Biossegurança.

Mas, apesar da aprovação, a coalizão de organizações que estão se articulando para deter esse eucalipto transgênico está destacando as ações que aconteceram contra o eucalipto transgênico da Futura Gene, não só no Brasil, mas também fora do país. No Brasil, várias organizações e ativistas se mobilizaram para denunciar a liberação, durante uma audiência pública sobre o pedido da FuturaGene que ocorreu em setembro de 2014, em Brasília.

Mais recentemente, em 5 de março de 2015, cerca de 1.000 mulheres de vários movimentos sociais rurais e urbanos ocuparam as instalações da FuturaGene no estado de São Paulo, no mesmo dia em que 300 camponeses organizados pela Via Campesina ocupavam a reunião da CTNBio na capital do país, onde a decisão sobre o eucalipto transgênico da Futura Gene teria sido tomada originalmente. Também fora do Brasil, semanas de ação foram organizadas em embaixadas e consulados brasileiros do mundo todo para protestar contra a liberação do eucalipto transgênico da FuturaGene/Suzano, mobilizando pessoas em cinco continentes.

“O nosso desafio agora é continuar a fortalecer a mobilização, em solidariedade às organizações e aos movimentos sociais brasileiros, e também em nível mundial, para interromper a propagação de árvores transgênicas,” afirmou Anne Petermann, Coordenadora da Campanha Internacional STOP GE Trees. Como disse uma mulher que participava da ocupação das operações da FuturaGene pelo MST no dia 5 de março, “… esse modelo do agronegócio é o modelo da morte, e não de vida” e “(…) nós estamos aqui para defender um modelo de vida, a soberania alimentar e a reforma agrária”.

Como dizem os brasileiros: “A Luta Continua”!

6 Responses to “Boycott Brazil – Not only do they have horrible wine…”

  1. Paulo Andrade

    Dear colleague.

    The above message states that Brazil has approved GM trees for commercial release without following the Precautionary Principle and in violation of national and international laws. As a matter of fact, Brazil has only approved a specific GM eucalyptus variety, by no means all GM trees. The country follows the guidelines for GMO/LMO risk assessment suggested by AHTEG. Moreover, as a Party at the Cartagena Protocol, Brazil established the legal framework to evaluate GMO/LMO risks and to deal with all GMO issues. CTNBio´s normative resolutions and the step-by-step procedure to evaluate risks are in strict conformity to what is required by the Protocol and the case of eucalyptus is by no means different or was somehow differently approached: the approval does not minimally violate our laws or the precincts of the Cartagena Protocol. In CTNBio´s opinion the chances of an accidental transport of eucalyptus seeds to another country are minute. Therefore, as long as trans-boundary movements can be managed, the approval is the sole responsibility of the Brazilian authority.The 2008 decision, mentioned above, just states that a risk assessment is mandatory for the release of GM trees and does not prohibit its adoption or ban the technology. Please read the decision carefully.
    I must also completely disagree with Dr. Steinbrecher´s opinion: the large-scale dispersion of reproductive material from Eucalyptus is highly improbable because of the nature of its seeds, the mechanisms of seed dispersion in Brazil and the production areas relative to the Brazilian borders. Moreover, the modern risk assessment framework is robust and readily applicable to every GMO, being it a annual crop, a fish, an insect or a forest tree.
    As for the honey production and export, this is not the subject of CTNBio. However, this apparent conflict is imaginary: it is ease to control where the bees will collect nectar, as they usually do not fly more than 1000 m in warm climates and will chose other nectar sources closer to the hives. Moreover, 82% of the Brazilian honey export goes to USA, a country that does not even label transgenics. It is presently unknown how much of the honey is sold as organic, but the percentage is low.

    Finally, in my e-mail I said CTNBio considered the product to be safe, even before the last round of voting, because the large majority of its members agreed on that, and because the discordant opinions were not based in good science: the chances to revert the general opinion were meager. Indeed, the product was approved by 18×3.

    Contrary to your opinion, my country is not irresponsible in relation to the environment and, fortunately, we are producing increasing good wines! Cheers.

    • photolangelle

      I must say that I have known Dr. Steinbrecher for many years and have faith that her science is sound, as do a tremendous amount of her colleagues around the world.

      I completely agree with a statement by Mr. Winnie Overbeek regarding a comment that you made earlier saying “…the release of this GM tree is solely a Brazilian question and no other country or group of countries has the right to interfere in our decision.”

      Mr. Overbeek replied, “…national borders in many countries in the world have been established by the dominant class at some point in a history marked by colonialism but they will never impede our solidarity actions that have no borders. It is actually an obligation for anyone to show solidarity with anyone else, whereever violations of any type or dangerous threats for that are taking place, such as this CTNBio approval of GM eucalyptus trees.”

      And I would be happy to try a bottle of the improved Brazilian wine. You may send it to:
      Langelle Photography
      266 Elmwood Avemue, Suite 307
      Buffalo, NY 14222 U.S.

      After tasting I will reconsider my statement that Brazil has horrible wine.


      • Paulo Andrade

        Dear “Photolangelle”.

        It is nice to have faith in our colleagues and I strongly encourage you to keep doing so. As a scientist, however, I can´t use the same criterion. On the other hand, I can and must change my mind as soon as the evidences show I am wrong.

        As for the international solidarity, I completely agree with Mrs. Overbeek, but that has nothing to do with the eucalyptus in Brazil. Moreover, it has also very little connection to the “escape” of GMA eucalyptus from our production areas to other countries: it will have indeed negligible chances to escape from Brazil and even if it reaches another country, again its chances to disseminate are very, very small. In my country it will be used to produce paper, cardboard, boxes, boards, battens, furniture and paper for multiple uses, as well as cellulose both for export and local use.

        As I told you, our wine are getting better. Instead of sending you a bottle, you are invited to have a couple of bottles here in my place, with some nice fish, a churrasco and local fruits.

        Paulo Andrade
        Sítio Rudá, Estrada do Ronca 36
        Paulista Pernambuco Brasil

  2. photolangelle

    Dear Paulo,

    I don’t want to argue evidence. It’s there. GMO Eucalyptus are a danger and despite your claims that “…even if it reaches another country, again its chances to disseminate are very, very small.”

    Even if using a prophylactic condom to prevent pregnancy are very, very small, it does happen.

    I was in Paraguay last November and told by a former government official who was ousted in the right-wing coup, that GMO soy was illegally smuggled into Paraguay. Now there are huge soy plantations controlled by multinational corporations using poisonous agrotoxins. Guess where the GMO soy, was smuggled from? Why Brazil, of course. Why wouldn’t the same smuggling happen with GMO eucalyptus?

    I just saw this article before breakfast this morning: “Brazil’s National Cancer Institute Names GM Crops as Cause of Massive Pesticide Use.” I also read articles on cancer and Glyphosate. All this seems very unhealthy to me.

    You also write, “it [GMO Eucalyptus] will be used to produce paper, cardboard, boxes, boards, battens, furniture and paper for multiple uses, as well as cellulose both for export and local use.” I suppose if one wants to produce needless trash for the Earth, this is perfectly acceptable, especially for profit. The Earth, however, should not be used as a trash can so some people can get rich.

    I do thank you for your invitation to have a couple of bottles of wine at your place, with some fish, a churrasco and local fruits. I’m sure the fish, churrasco and local fruits would be excellent. I find it hard to accept that invitation as I am not from a class that can jet to Brazil for a wine tasting. If you want me to give a chance for a fair assessment to dispute my claim that Brazil has horrible wine, I do suggest you send a bottle here. It would be cheaper for everyone and I promise a fair evaluation – which I hope proves that Brazilian wine is improving.



  3. Paulo Andrade

    Dear Orin, thanks for your considerations.

    Risks are not just a matter of probability, but is a composition of chances and damage. If a couple of eucalyptus trees sneak into a country and grow there (the probability is very low), the damage will be very small. Risks (probability X damage) are, therefore, negligible. The comparison with the consequences of a pregnancy is not valid, because you can´t destroy a human life (and its inevitable consequences) as you do with a couple of trees (admitting that they will be a threat by themselves). I still support CTNBio´s risk assessment in relation to trans-boundary movements.

    The Paraguayan GM crop story is very similar to what happened in Brazil, ten years ago: Argentina was quick in establishing an adequate legal risk assessment framework to evaluate transgenic plants and it commercially released some GM soybean varieties. They were getting large profits, while in Brazil profits were very close to zero: GM adoption in Brazil was blocked 1n 2011 by activists, who successfully blocked the selling of GM seeds, in spite of CTNBio approval. The Brazilian regulatory scenario was confusing, plagued by authority conflicts, and these conflicts were legally explored by the activists. The producers started to smuggle seeds from Argentina and in two years there were more than 4 million hectares planted with GM soybeans. This prompted a revision of our legal framework which now reduces the chance of such legal fights, without compromising risk assessment. Almost the same story is now happening in Paraguay. Now they have a lot of different GM soybean varieties to smuggle into Paraguay, including insect resistant varieties which need much less pesticides that the conventional varieties. Please keep in mind that it is not Monsanto (or the other 4 big ones) that encourage this initiative, is profit for the producers.

    Now, on the Cancer Institute report: there is not a single line of this report linking GM crops to cancer! What the institute states is that the large use of pesticides may increase the incidence of cancer, but even so they are precautions in accusing single products. The headlines you read and even the texts on the many blogs are simply false. Please download the Institute´s text and have a careful read.

    I must strongly disagree with you about the idea that paper, cardboard, furniture, etc is trash. None of us can leave without paper, timber and cellulose products (including toilet paper): we are dependent of them not only for the daily life, but also to spread and store culture and knowledge. And they are largely recyclable.


    • photolangelle

      Hi Paulo,

      I really don’t have time for this back and forth.

      I have studied genetically engineered junk for over a decade and you will never convince me: 1) that it is good 2) moral 3) ethical or anything that spiritually relates to the betterment of the Earth and its inhabitants.

      This conversation is a waste of time and your unwillingness to provide proof regarding Brazilian wine (except at my expense to fly to Brazil to taste Brazilian wine) leads me to think that my original premise is that Brazilian wine is horrible, still stands.

      Find someone else to debate. I actually have better things to do. Continue to delude yourself with absurd statements that genetically engineered eucalyptus will “spread and store culture and knowledge.” Good luck with your imagination.

      And even better luck with Brazilian wine.


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