Regulatory change would spread modified genetic traits to wild organisms.
MONTREAL, MEXICO CITY, SÃO PAULO, February 22, 2018—The largest rural movements in Brazil, representing well over a million farmers, are protesting a new Brazilian regulation that would allow release of gene drives, the controversial genetic extinction technology, into Brazil’s ecosystems and farms.
On February 3rd and 4th, the National Coalition of Farmworkers and Rural, Water and Forest Peoples met near São Paulo, Brazil and sounded the alarm about new Brazilian regulatory changes – a resolution passed on January 15th by Brazil’s National Technical Commission on Biosafety that would allow the release of gene drive organisms into the environment. The effect of this change is that Brazil becomes the first country in the world to establish a legal channel for the release of gene drives into the environment. The new rule could potentially make it even easier to release a living gene drive organism than a GMO seed.
The farmers organizations are concerned about agribusiness giants spreading more transgenic seeds, but also attempts to directly change the nature of wild plants and animals.
João Pedro Stédile, from the National Coordination of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) which represents over a million landless peasants in Brazil and is part of the global peasant movement La Via Campesina, summarized the concerns expressed in the meeting:
“Brazil is living a serious political, economic, social and environmental crisis, and transnational capital has supported a political coup. Within this context, the government is now changing laws and the Constitution to allow them to take over our natural resources. This decision from CTNBio is illegal, and would allow the dissemination of new transgenic seeds and living organisms without even minimal controls and assessments. We are not staying passive on these assaults, we will fight back against this resolution.”