The following statement was read to the full plenary of the SBSTTA meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity on 21 February, 2008 in Rome, Italy:

GE trees are a tremendous threat to forest biodiversity, and to forest dependent and indigenous communities.

This body is not acknowledging this.  Instead of strengthening the decision on GE trees made at the last COP, this body is considering weakening the decision, paving the way to commercialize this deadly and destructive technology.

Commercialization of GE trees is moving forward rapidly, driven by pulp and paper and biofuels industries.  Use of GE trees will further consolidate a model of monoculture tree plantations that has already resulted in serious social and environmental impacts, in many Southern countries.

The issue of GE trees is closely connected to the issues of agrofuels, climate change and illegal logging, which must also be addressed by this body with the application of the precautionary principle.

The new emphasis on wood to produce agrofuels is creating a massive new demand for wood on top of the already growing demand.  This will result in more logging—mostly illegal—and more conversion of forests and other ecosystems to massive monoculture tree plantations of both conventional and GE trees.  All of this will have a detrimental impact on the climate.

The destruction of forests takes a high toll, not only on wildlife and biodiversity, but on forest-dependent and indigenous communities and women

A ban on GE trees is critical because of the enormous threat to biodiversity from contamination of forests by GE trees. Researchers have found that tree pollen can travel for over 1,000 kilometers.  Addressing GE trees on a case by case basis is inadequate.  

Even GE tree researchers acknowledge this threat.  In an FAO report on GE trees, researchers named contamination as their second greatest concern about GE trees.  Their number one concern was public opinion.

Social movements and environmental organizations around the world are mobilizing against GE trees.  In only one week, nearly 150 organizations based in countries where GE tree field trials are occurring signed on to support a global ban against the release of GE trees into the environment.

It is now the time for delegates to acknowledge the concerns of civil society.  The decision from COP 8 must be strengthened.  There must be a ban on the release of GE trees.

Photo: Claudio Nogueira

The Role of Eucalyptus in Brazil comes under the Crosshairs of the International Anti-Transgenic Tree Network (June 2, 2023)

Impact of monoculture in territories was the subject of visits led by FASE in Espírito Santo


Note: FASE were co-organizers of the tour to the communities of Espírito Santo.

The article (included below in full) is written by Claudio Nogueira (FASE Communications Coordinator) and originally appeared June 2nd, 2023, on FASE’s website. It is available in both Portugese and English through Google Translate.


The pulp industry writes a sad story in Brazil. Its role in land occupation with eucalyptus monoculture imprints a perverse logic that suffocates traditional communities and goes far beyond false ideas of reforestation and environmental concern. This was the scenario encountered by members of the campaign “Stop GM Trees” (No to Transgenic Trees) and the Alert Against Green Deserts Network, in a tour organized by the FASE Espírito Santo team, visiting locations in the north of Espírito Santo and the extreme south in Bahia, between the 24th and 29th of May.

In all, around 25 people, including popular educators, quilombola and landless leaders, environmentalists and foreign researchers from Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Argentina and Chile were able to verify the impact of eucalyptus plantations on the way of life of family farmers and traditional communities in the region. For three days, the group got to know the experiences of agroecological practices in areas taken over by the Landless Workers Movement (MST) at the Egídio Brunetto Training School and at the Índio Galdino settlement, in addition to hearing reports of the difficulties faced by the quilombola communities of Volta Miúda and Angelim 2 with monoculture plantations. After the visits,

eucalyptus espirito santo

Photo: Claudio Nogueira

For Beto Loureiro, educator at FASE in Espírito Santo, the tour was important for the researchers to realize that the impacts are already terrible, and the transgenic trees are going to be one more aggression in the historical series that monoculture causes in the territories, “since the expulsion of traditional communities, passing through the depletion of water resources and the enormous amount of poisons that they apply now, even by air”. “They are spraying the monocultures by drone, and this poison is spreading, falling on the communities’ plantations, falling on their homes, on their schools. In short, a real chemical war, which takes place here in the green desert, ”he explains.

Transgenic trees, a new threat

Brazil was chosen to host the meeting due to the extension of activities in the paper industry and approval by the company Suzano, in 2021, for the planting of genetically modified eucalyptus trees to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate. This follows the previous approval, in 2015, of FuturaGene’s fast-growing transgenic eucalyptus tree, which was not planted commercially. The country is the only one in Latin America where field tests seem to be taking place today with genetically modified trees.

Genetic engineering directly changes the genetic makeup (DNA) of an organism, bypassing normal plant or animal reproduction to create new traits. Genetic engineering includes techniques that make changes to DNA by inserting genetic material from the same, similar or wholly unrelated organisms, or, with genome editing (also called gene editing), by introducing genetic material that acts as “editor” to change the DNA. Genetic engineering applied to trees is a technical challenge fraught with serious environmental and social risks.

Photo: Claudio Nogueira

Most research is focused on increasing the productivity of planted trees for various industrial purposes. These objectives include pulp, paper and wood production; as well as the use of trees as “bioenergy” crops – to produce biomass and liquid “cellulosic biofuel”. There is also some interest in genetically modifying trees to produce other industrial materials such as pharmaceuticals, using the trees as “biofactories”, as well as experiments to sell carbon credits and proposals to release these trees into the wild to “restor” endangered species. of extinction.

“It made us realize that it is another problem that we will have to deal with”, ponders Beto. “These transgenic eucalyptus trees grow very quickly. Therefore, they must also suck water very quickly, they are resistant to poisons. We can imagine that the burden of poisons in monocultures will increase, and that is what we expect from these researchers: that they return to their countries also understanding that non-transgenic eucalyptus is already a tragedy”, he concludes.

The foreign delegation continued its tour of Brazil with audiences at UnB and Esplanada dos Ministérios, in Brasília, and will continue to Mato Grosso do Sul, also to verify the role of eucalyptus plantations in the environmental imbalance in the state.