In an unprecedented decision, Brazil releases the sale of wheat flour

The National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio), linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, unanimously decided, on Thursday (11), to release the sale of HB4 transgenic wheat flour, produced in Argentina.

This will be the first product with genetically modified wheat marketed in the world.

The request for approval was presented by Tropical Improvement & Genetics (TMG), which asked for permission to import transgenic wheat developed by Argentina’s Bioceres in partnership with French company Florimond Desprez. It took two years and eight months to get approved.

Drought tolerant and resistant to glufosinate ammonium poison, the HB4 variety was released under the argument of “increased productivity in situations and environments of low water availability, (…) for exclusive use in food, feed or derived or processed products .”

The Brazilian Wheat Industry Association (Abitrigo) was against the release of the technology. Entities such as the Permanent Campaign Against Pesticides and for Life and the Biodiversity Working Group (GT) of the National Coordination of Agroecology (ANA) sent an official letter to the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) criticizing the lack of transparency in the assessment process at CTNBio. [Contiua após o vídeo.]

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According to these organizations, the consequences of human consumption of transgenic wheat and the pesticides used in its cultivation can be catastrophic.

Once approved, transgenic wheat is considered a path of no return – as has already happened with corn, soybeans and cotton.

“The possibility that transgenic wheat contaminates other wheat varieties is almost inevitable,” explained biologist Alicia Massarini, a member of the collective of scientists against HB4. clean wheat, in a recent interview with Brazil in fact.

“It’s impossible that seeds don’t mix in the process of storage and transport. In the field too, because even if wheat is an autogamous plant that fertilizes itself, a small proportion of around 3% can experience cross-pollination.” , added the researcher, noting that Brazil did not carry out an adequate risk analysis and “blindly” trusted the criteria adopted by Argentina.

::”The risk of transgenic wheat contaminating other varieties is inevitable”, says biologist::

Abitrigo estimates that each Brazilian consumes, on average, more than 40 kilos of grain per year, through foods such as bread and pasta.

“The glufosinate of ammonium, present in pesticides used in the cultivation of transgenic wheat, can cause some types of cancer. It can also affect the reproductive system, and it is neurotoxic. There are many risks for a product that is so important in human nutrition,” he told the Brazil in fact agronomist Leonardo Melgarejo, representative of the Ministry of Agrarian Development at CTNBio between 2008 and 2014 and collaborator of the Permanent Campaign Against Pesticides and for Life.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) classifies ammonium glufosinate as 15 times more toxic than glyphosate, which is already 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.

In addition to the risks of pesticides, the very condition of HB4 as a transgenic product is not without risks to human health. In a note published in September, former CTNBio members emphasized that there is no scientific consensus on the safety of transgenics.

The approval of genetically modified wheat in the Commission will have direct impacts in 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.

Edition: Vinícius Segalla

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