The National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio), a collegiate advisory body of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations (MCTI), once again postponed the analysis of the request for commercial release of transgenic wheat filed by the seed company Tropical Melhoramento & Genética ( TMG) in March 2019.
The topic was foreseen on the agenda of the 243rd Ordinary Meeting of CTNBio, held this Thursday (5).
“The process was not discussed at this meeting because we are awaiting a response from the requesting company to an investigation carried out by CTNBio”, explained Paulo Barroso, president of the commission, in a live broadcast on the MCTI channel on Youtube, at 5:35 pm.
Barroso did not specify what information was requested from the company. The president of CTNBio also did not inform the deadline given to the Argentines, nor the date of the next meeting.
On June 10, CTNBio’s decision on the matter was postponed under the same justification, without further details.
TMG’s request specifies that the wheat would be used “to increase productivity in situations and environments of low water availability and resistant to glufosinate, for exclusive use in food, feed or derived or processed products.”
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 release of transgenic wheat was approved by the sectorial subcommittee for human and animal areas of CTNBio. The decision of the permanent sectorial subcommittee for plant and environmental areas is pending.
The genetically modified cereal variety evaluated by the commission is HB4, by the Argentine company Bioceres. CTNBio’s decision will have direct impacts on 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.
Since the request reached CTNBio, Brazilian and international environmental and health research entities have mobilized to denounce the possible consequences of human consumption of transgenic wheat and pesticides used in its cultivation.
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. Another aspect considered serious is the risk of contamination of other seeds through cross-pollination.
Edition: Leandro Melito