Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation

The Use of Transgenics in Brazil

by National Confederation of Brazilian Bishops

MST Informe May 2003.

www.globalresearch.ca   14 June 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/MST306A.html

Concerned about the recent events involving transgenics, the Bishops of the National Confederation of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB), accompanied by the Pastoral Commission of Land (CPT), have written an informative letter about the health dangers caused by these products. They have also called attention to the loss of sovereignty that the use of transgenic seeds implicates. The document was delivered at the ceremony commemorating the shelving of the plan to permit the United States base at Alcântara.


We, attendant Bishops to the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), in the diverse regions of the CNBB, before the grave problem of transgenics in our country and supported by valid legal mechanisms, take the initiative to express ourselves on this subject.

Transgenics are the result of genetic manipulation that permits the production, alteration and transference of genes among living things, breaks barriers preventing natural crossing between species, creating, altering and transferring genetic material between plants, animals, bacteria, viruses and humans.

All over the world as well as here in Brazil many scholars and social leaders have raised, very opportunely, various questions in relation to this subject. These revolve around the following risks:

1st In relation to human health, the ingestion of genetically modified grains may provoke increased allergies, antibiotic resistance and an elevated index of toxic substances in foods.

2nd There is a risk of genetic erosion in the environment, irreversibly affecting biodiversity, through the contamination of natural seed banks (banks of germplasm). This adds to the frightening increase in monoculture and the consequent loss of the rich variety and quality of seeds.

3rd There is also a threat to our country’s food sovereignty, due to the loss of control of seeds and living beings through patenting of the same, turned into exclusive and legal private property of transnational groups that seek only commercial profits.

4th However, the greatest risk, in our opinion, is the total dependence, destruction and finally the disappearance of the small and even middle-sized farmer due to the inexorable global monopoly of the production and commercialization of seeds, that become the dominion of a small group of giant and powerful transnational companies.

In relation to these questions, on the other hand, we cannot ignore or fail to comply with the ethical demands such as “no harm,” social justice, environmental justice and precaution.

The principle of “no harm” implicates our duty to avoid or impede harm or damage to others. In the case of massive introduction of new technologies that imply potential health risks, this principle ought to be plainly guarantied through the means of clear and sure information.

The principle of social justice, in cases of massive technological innovations and high social impact, brings us to ask who is going to benefit and who will be put at risk. At present, in the concrete case of transgenics it is clear that a small group of large businesses will be the greatest beneficiaries, with grave damage to family agriculture.

The principle of environmental justice imposes the duty to preserve the environment for current and future generations. Transgenics may represent a serious ecological risk.

The precautionary principle demands that there be strict biosecurity rules before allowing any product to be consumed by humans. This is not intended to hold back science or research, or to provoke a paranoid fear of newness. On the contrary, it supports the greatest space for science and research, oriented, however, for the common good. Technological applications that implicate potential risks of great breadth, be decided, approved, negated, or perfected through democratic decisions and remain under the control of the people

Supporting the heroic struggle of popular rural organizations and echoing one of the great claims of the Porto Alegre’s World Social Forum, we readily advocate that seeds be declared a Patrimony of Humanity and conserved in their genetic integrity for farm communities.

On this same note we take the liberty of indicating to the Public Power, to the Public Ministry, to the Legislature, to the Judiciary, and to the Executive Office that, upon addressing these grave questions, they orient themselves to these new and just demands, as well as the ethical principals that govern them.

Itaici, May 6th, 2003. Attendant Bishops to the CPT: Dom Tomás Balduino, President; Dom Xavier Gilles, Vice-President; Dom Orlando Dotti; Dom Ladislau Biernaski; Dom Pedro Casaldáliga; Dom André de Witte; Dom José Alberto Moura; Dom Guilherme Werlang; Dom Heriberto Hermes; Dom José Mario Streher; Dom Moacir Grecchi; Dom José Agusto da Rocha; Dom Maurício Grotto; Dom Apparecido José Dias

Copyright Pastoral Commission  2003.  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .