The National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio), linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, must decide this Thursday (5) on the commercial release of transgenic wheat “to increase productivity in situations and environments of low water availability and resistant to glufosinate, for exclusive use in food, feed or by-products or processed.”
The process entered the agenda of the 243rd Ordinary Meeting of CTNBio, which takes place virtually from 8:30 am. The release has already been approved by the sectorial subcommittee for human and animal areas. What is pending is the analysis of the permanent sectorial subcommittee for plant and environmental areas, which was scheduled for June 10, but was postponed.
The postponement occurred at the request of members of the subcommittee itself, who requested additional information from the seed company Tropical Melhoramento & Genética (TMG), author of the request for analysis by CTNBio, in March 2019.
The genetically modified cereal variety evaluated by the commission is HB4, by the Argentine company Bioceres.
path of no return
According to Brazilian and international environmental and health research entities, the consequences of human consumption of transgenic wheat and the pesticides used in its cultivation can be catastrophic.
On June 9, organizations that make up the Permanent Campaign Against Pesticides and for Life and the Biodiversity Working Group (GT) of the National Association of Agroecology (ANA) sent an official letter to the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and CTNBio against the release. The entities denounced a lack of transparency in the debate on the subject.
Once approved, transgenic wheat is considered a path of no return – as has already happened with corn, soybeans and cotton.
“The possibility that transgenic wheat contaminates other wheat varieties is an almost inevitable risk,” explained biologist Alicia Massarini, a member of the collective of scientists against HB4. clean wheat, in a recent interview with Brazil in fact.
“It’s impossible for the seeds not to mix in the storage and transport process. In the field too, because even if wheat is an autogamous plant that fertilizes itself, a small proportion of around 3% can experience cross-pollination “, added the researcher, noting that Brazil did not carry out an adequate risk analysis and blindly trusted the criteria adopted by Argentina, a wheat exporter.
The Brazilian Wheat Industry Association estimates that each Brazilian consumes, on average, more than 40 kilos of grain per year.
“Glufosinate ammonium, present in pesticides used in the cultivation of transgenic wheat, can cause some types of cancer. It can also affect the reproductive system, and is neurotoxic.
There are many risks for such an important product in human nutrition,” he told the Brazil in fact agronomist Leonardo Melgarejo, representative of the Ministry of Agrarian Development at CTNBio between 2008 and 2014 and collaborator of the Permanent Campaign Against Pesticides and for Life.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) classifies glufosinate ammonium as 15 times more toxic than glyphosate, which is the target of lawsuits in the United States for causing cancer.
Genetic modification in wheat is carried out precisely to make the plant resistant to the product, which is banned in Europe and most developed countries.
The possible approval by CTNBio would have direct impacts in Argentina. Brazil’s endorsement is a condition for the release of sales in the neighboring country, authorized last year. Brazil is responsible for buying 50% of the wheat exported by the Argentines.
Edition: Leandro Melito