Open Letter to FSC Board Calling on FSC to Dissociate from Suzano

FSC has a policy of association under which, “Introduction of genetically modified organisms in forestry operations” is not acceptable.

In 2010, Suzano bought biotechnology company FuturaGene. In January 2014, FuturaGene applied to Brazil’s National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio) for approval to plant GE trees on a commercial scale.

In June 2014, FSC-Watch reported that Brazilian company Suzano was planning to use genetically engineered trees in its plantations, and asked whether FSC would therefore dissociate from Suzano, in accordance with its policy of association.

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees recently wrote to FSC, calling on FSC to dissociate from Suzano.

Surely, this is a no brainer. FSC’s policy of association is clear. And Suzano leaves us in no doubt that it intends to plant GE trees commercially. (Here’s a video about GE trees from FuturaGene. And here’s another.)

But wait. Who is this happy looking character?

It’s Estevão do Prado Braga, a member of FSC’s Board. And he works for … Suzano.

Surely FSC wouldn’t allow someone from a company that was developing GE trees for commercial release to remain on its Board?

And surely FSC wouldn’t allow someone from a company that is in breach of its policy of association to remain on its board?

Here’s the open letter from the Campaign to Stop GE Trees. FSC-Watch looks forward to posting the response from FSC.

Kim Carstensen
FSC International Executive Director
k.carstensen@fsc.org

Michael Conroy
FSC International Board Chairman
michael.conroy@earthlink.net

Hans Joachim Droste
Head of FSC International Policies & Standards Unit
hj.droste@fsc.org

Dear Mr. Carstensen, Mr. Conroy and Mr. Droste,

Please find the enclosed Open Letter which was delivered to the Board of FSC during the recent FSC General Assembly in Spain.

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees is calling on the FSC to formally dissociate from Brazil’s Suzano corporation since they have requested approval from the Brazilian National Technical Biosafety Commission to legalize the commercial-scale release of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees–a clear violation of FSC policy.

With this letter, I am formally requesting an answer from the FSC Board regarding this issue.

Sincerely,

Anne Petermann
Coordinator, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

Open Letter to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) from the
Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees (CSGET)

FSC General Assembly, Seville, Spain

Campaign Urges FSC to Disassociate from Suzano/FuturaGene

Brazil’s biosafety commission is currently considering petitions from forestry company Suzano, owner of biotechnology corporation FuturaGene, to allow widespread commercialization of GE (a.k.a. GM/GMO) eucalyptus tree plantations, throughout the country. In light of the serious consequences, the members of the international Campaign to STOP GE Trees (CSGET), are formally requesting, with this open letter, that the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) disassociate from their member, Suzano, based on FSC Principles and Criteria.

Clearly, if the Brazilian National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio) approves the pending request for commercialization of GE eucalyptus trees, Suzano will be in violation of FSC’s requirements for certification. The Campaign further believes that Suzano making the request for commercial release already violates FSC criteria.

The FSC Principles & Criteria includes references to GMOs:

C6.8 Use of biological control agents shall be documented, minimized, monitored and strictly controlled in accordance with national laws and internationally accepted scientific protocols. Use of genetically modified organisms shall be prohibited.

Intent: FSC-POL-30-602 Genetically Modified Organisms provides a definition and guidance on the interpretation of Criterion 6.8. Genetically improved organisms (e.g., Mendelian crossed) are not considered to be genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (i.e., results of genetic engineering), and may be used. The prohibition of genetically modified organisms applies to all organisms including trees. [1]

The Campaign’s request coincides with letters [2, 3] signed by hundreds of organizations, from a multitude of countries, and delivered to the CTNBio calling on them to deny a pending request by Suzano/FuturaGene to commercially plant GE eucalyptus trees in Brazil.

FSC’s rules and the interpretation of such allows for the research of GE trees, as long as that member company doesn’t incorporate GE trees into its commercial forestry operations; however Suzano, as owner of FuturaGene, is now poised and waiting approval to do so. Therefore, the request for widespread commercialization of GE eucalyptus trees in Brazil from FuturaGene will clearly violate their FSC certification.

The Campaign further points out that independent risk assessment for the measurement and reporting of current and future disruption of environmental and human health, climate justice, social equality, and economic risks associated with the widespread proliferation of GE eucalyptus tree plantations has been virtually nonexistent. Moreover, initial first person accounts from frontline communities have reported land grabs and clashes between local communities and timber corporations including those with Suzano [4].

Therefore, The Campaign along with other groups from around the world have joined the effort to stop commercialization of GE trees due to the potential serious and negative long-term effects on human rights and biodiversity.

The Campaign respectfully reminds FSC that any corporation that uses the Forest Stewardship Council’s certification to greenwash their operations should have their membership and certification revoked by FSC if FSC wishes to be credible. The future of viable and sustainable commercial forest operations depends on many factors but one very important element is the adherence to a clear commitment to the future health of our planet and people.

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees is an international alliance of organizations [5], that includes Indigenous Peoples, scientists, anti-GM food activists, forest protection advocates and social justice organizers from across North and South America, Europe and Australasia–all of which are home to companies and universities developing GE trees.

Contact:

Anne Petermann, Campaign Coordinator,

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees

globalecology@gmavt.net

stopgetrees.org

References:

1. FSC-POL-30-602 (2000) FSC INTERPRETATION ON GMOS (GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS): https://ic.fsc.org/policies.338.htm?lightbox%5Bwidth%5D=720#file-details-499

2. Campaign to STOP GE Trees – Sign on to Support the call by Brazilian and Latin American groups to reject GE eucalyptus trees: http://wrm.org.uy/highlighted_post/campaign-to-stop-ge-trees-sign-on-to-support-the-call-by-brazilian-and-latin-american-groups-to-reject-g-e-eucalyptus-trees/

3. Open letter to CTNBio to reject GE trees in Brazil: http://stopgetrees.org/open-letter-ctnbio-reject-ge-trees-brazil/

4. Press release by World Rainforest Movement and Biofuelwatch—Maranhão Brazil: Traditional communities’ livelihoods and Cerrado biodiversity under threat in from Europe’s bioenergy boom: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Suzano-report-joint-PR.pdf

5. Organizations involved in the Campaign to STOP GE Trees include:

Biofuelwatch (US-UK): http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk

Canadian Biotechnology Action Network: http://www.cban.ca/

EcoNexus (EUR): http://www.econexus.info

Global Justice Ecology Project (International): http://globaljusticeecology.org/

Friends of the Earth Melbourne (AUS)

Indigenous Environmental Network (North America): http://www.ienearth.org/

World Rainforest Movement (International): http://wrm.org.uy

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4 comments

  1. I have the slight feeling that there is a misunderstanding of the FSC-Standards. I’ve rad those standards. I am not happy about what I have rad. BUT: The documents are easy to read and they say clearly it is forbidden to buy and/or sell such trees as “FSC-certified”. IT IS NOT FORBIDDEN FOR ANY COMPANY TO HAVE such trees for noncertified products. It is forbidden to mix such species with certified species, but it is not forbidden to own.

    It is the same telling a company only to use certified material for all products even if those products are sold as non certified.

    It is the same telling a bottler that carbonic acid is actually a POISON. You know what the bottler would say to you?! “It not of your business”. And you know why, because he is selling this products to customers who demand to be poisoned. And as long it is not forbidden … .

    The same thing with GM wood. This wood is being sold to companies which do not want to have FSC certified material.
    You must actually prove that this material was sold as FSC certified. That would be something interesting. At the moment you just missed the point.

    I am sorry but to me your article makes no sense at all.

    John

  2. I suspect GM trees have already entered some ‘chains of custody’ by stealth. After all, how many people can detect a tree that flowers but produces no pollen? How many individuals or groups are willing to pay thousands to have trees genetically tested, often using tests supplied by the same labs that patented the genetic modifications?
    Why was the e.grandis genome sequenced? As a mental exercise for egg heads in white coats or to make bucket loads of cash?
    Of course they want GM trees given the FSC price premium. Keep a close watch on those clonal plantations because the truth maybe stranger than your think.

  3. Just know also as a company that is opening factory in Maranhão and also purchase new properties in other states in Brazil, for example, Piauí, is complaince item about the conversion of native forests to plantations!

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