FSC’s Policy of Association does not allow FSC to associate with companies that introduce genetically modified organisms into forestry operations. Suzano is FSC-certified and plans to plant GE trees on a commercial scale. Will FSC therefore dissociate from Suzano?
In July 2010, Suzano Pulp and Paper bought the biotechnology company FuturaGene. For the past 8 years FuturaGene has been carrying out field trials of genetically engineered eucalyptus and in January 2014, FuturaGene applied to Brazil’s National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio) for approval to plant GE trees on a commercial scale.
FSC’s position on GE trees
In 2007, I looked at FSC’s position on GE trees and concluded that it was “clear as mud”. But two years later, FSC’s Board approved a policy that includes a very clear statement on GE trees.
The Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC (FSC-POL-01-004) is “especially relevant, but not limited to, the granting and maintenance of FSC trademark licenses and FSC certificates to organizations associated with FSC through forest management, chain of custody and/or controlled wood FSC certification.”
The policy lists six activities that are not acceptable:
FSC will only allow its association with organizations that are not directly or indirectly involved in the following unacceptable activities:
a) Illegal logging or the trade in illegal wood or forest products
b) Violation of traditional and human rights in forestry operations
c) Destruction of high conservation values in forestry operations
d) Significant conversion of forests to plantations or non-forest use
e) Introduction of genetically modified organisms in forestry operations
f) Violation of any of the ILO Core Conventions
On its website, FSC clarifies that research into GE trees does not constitutes a breach of the Policy of Association:
So, according to FSC’s rules (and FSC’s interpretation of those rules) research into GE trees by an FSC-certified company is fine, as long as the company doesn’t introduce any GE trees into its forestry operations.
Suzano’s position on GE trees
Here’s how Suzano describes its GE tree trial plantations:
In Brazil, FuturaGene‐Suzano has regulatory field trials planted in 4 different geographies in Brazil, which represent regions where eucalyptus is economically important and therefore where the field performance and possible environmental impact need to be evaluated. GM eucalyptus is planted in different regions of Brazil as a means to establish field performance criteria and allow the collection of biosafety data. There are two farms in two different regions of the state of São Paulo, in the southeast region of Brazil and three farms in the northeast region; one in Bahia state, one in Piauí state and one in Maranhão state.
The company’s plans are clear: “In Brazil, GM trees will be deployed wherever the company has plantation operations, and where it makes commercial sense to plant them.”
Suzano currently has a total area of almost 300,000 hectares of FSC certified monocultures, following assessments by the certifying bodies Rainforest Alliance, Imaflora and SCS.
Surely Suzano’s statement that it intends to plant GE trees “wherever the company has plantation operations” puts it in breach of FSC’s Policy of Association.
The Campaign to Stop GE Trees is asking for sign-ons (before 15 June 2014) in support of a letter from Brazilian and Latin American organisations urging CTNBio to reject FuturaGene’s approval. Please visit WRM’s website for more details and to sign on.