Celebrating our 20th Anniversary

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Brazil Trip

During May and June of 2023, Global Justice Ecology Project and the Campaign to STOP GE Trees brought people from Argentina, Canada, Chile, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, the UK, and the US to Brazil to develop plans for the international campaign to stop the development and commercial release of genetically engineered trees, and to support and highlight opposition to pulp company Suzano’s ongoing expansion of industrial eucalyptus plantations and potential use of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees modified to tolerate toxic herbicides.

GJEP and the Campaign met with Brazilian NGOs, Indigenous and Quilombola communities, and MST (Landless Workers Movement) members in order to learn, document and amplify the voices and concerns of rural communities who are on the front lines of resisting industrial eucalyptus plantations and their devastating social and ecological impacts.

This page reviews the purpose, goals and accomplishments of the trip. It also includes reports, videos and press coverage from the trip, as well as background information and some relevant updates.

A group of Quilombola community members from Espirito Santo and Bahía speak with the International Campaign to STOP GE Trees about the dangers of industrial eucalyptus operations near their territories.
Quilombola community members from Espirito Santo and Bahía joined the International Campaign to STOP GE Trees in Vitoria, Brazil for a meeting to discuss the threats and impacts from existing industrial eucalyptus plantations near their territories, and the potential impacts of proposed use of eucalyptus trees genetically engineered to tolerate the toxic herbicide glyphosate. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

Our Goals

1. Meet as the International Campaign Steering Committee of The Campaign to STOP GE Trees to discuss and plan goals for the coming years, including expanding participation and identifying new participants from key regions threatened with GE tree development and/or potential eucalyptus or GE eucalyptus tree plantations in Brazil.

2. Expose and help stop the plans of corporations such as Suzano to develop GE eucalyptus or other GE tree plantations in Brazil, by supporting organizations and local and Indigenous communities on the ground, building the international campaign, and holding Suzano accountable for their actions.

3. Amplify stories and the resistance of impacted communities on the ground through crafting media content such as, interviews, photographs, and videos.

4. Identify and form strategic relationships with individuals and organizations on the ground in Brazil who are interested in joining the campaign, and provide support through raising awareness about their resistance and pooling together resources to support the development of the campaign in Brazil.

GJEP’s Media Coordinator Steve Taylor (left, holding a camera) and Langelle Photography Director Orin Langelle sit to discuss their plans to document the day's activities In Brasilia.
GJEP’s Media Coordinator Steve Taylor (left) and Langelle Photography Director Orin Langelle discuss their plans to document the days activities In Brasilia. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

What Was Accomplished

In the Quilombola and Indigenous communities, over and over we heard stories about land grabbing, the drying up of rivers and lakes due to the water-greedy eucalyptus plantations, the drift of agrotoxins into communities and onto their crops, surveillance by guards and drones intended to intimidate the communities to stop resisting, the loss of access to hunting and fishing as animal habitats are destroyed, and the migration of families into the cities because they can no longer support themselves in their traditional territories.

We shared our information about GE trees with communities.

We then took these concerns to Brazil’s capital city, Brasilia, and presented them to several ministries. Josenea, a member of one of the Quilombola communities, accompanied us to testify directly about the impacts on her community. We met with the Environmental Caucus of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, and had meetings with representatives from the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, and the Ministry of Agrarian Development. We submitted a list of demands to these ministries, in both Portuguese and English.

There were many pledges of support for the communities from the Ministries and we will be following the progress of these pledges along with our partners in Brazil.

The Landless Workers Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra or MST) has been continuing their efforts to take back lands from Suzano’s eucalyptus plantations to give landless families a place to farm, including education about use of agroecological practices that do not use agrotoxins. These visits were a lens into what is possible here in Brazil as the MST settlements collectively are one of Brazil’s largest food producers, demonstrating that large-scale agribusiness with its social and ecological devastation, is not necessary.

Indigenous Pataxo community members watch from the reddish dirt road as Beto Loureiro of FASE-ES climbs through our bus window after it got stuck in the mud
Stuck in the mud: Beto Loureiro of FASE-ES, organizer of the tour through Espirito Santo and Bahia, climbs out our bus window after the bus went off the road and got stuck in the mud on the way to meet with the Indigenous Pataxo community that is under attack for their land. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
An Indigenous man wearing a headband of colorful feathers and orange floral armbands sits smoking a pipe in front of Brazil’s National Congress in Brasilia
Indigenous man smokes a pipe during a protest in front of Brazil’s National Congress in the capital city of Brasilia on 30 May 2023. Photo: Orin Langelle/GJEP