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Stop Vandalizing Science!

March 11, 2015
On Thursday, March 5, at 6 a.m., around 1,000 female members of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) armed with sticks and knives broke into a cellulose company in San Paulo State and destroyed millions of samples of genetically modified (GM) eucalyptus saplings.  Fox News and a number of international media outlets reported.

The MST said in a communique that its activists invaded the facilities of FuturaGene Brasil Tecnologia, a company owned by Suzano Papel y Celulosa where genetic modification research is conducted to improve the paper mill's productivity.

The National Technical Commission on Biosecurity, which is affiliated with the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, on Thursday intends to meet to approve introducing the trees into Brazil.

FuturaGene says that the trees could be 20 percent more productive than regular eucalyptus trees, which would put Brazil in the forefront of world paper pulp production.

In a release, BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood condemned the destruction of the research being done at FuturaGene:

“The biotechnology industry and the greater scientific community is deeply saddened by the thoughtless destruction of research that occurred at the Futuragene facility in Brazil.  These acts of vandalism are an attack on science, progress, innovation and civilized discourse.

“When the anti-science activists’ opposition to biotechnology escalates to malicious criminal destruction of property, it’s a sobering reminder that we have a responsibility to better educate the world on biotechnology’s promise help to feed, fuel and heal the world.

“Research and development of biotechnology’s life-changing solutions must go on, but acts of intimidation, aggression and threats of violence against researchers must not be tolerated and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Sadly the violence carried out by Brazil's Landless Worker's Movement (MST) resulted in the loss of many years of technological development and halted progress on research with the potential to substantially increase yield and thereby reduce deforestation.   Violence also stopped the progress of the Brazilian National Biosafety Technical Commission, which was reviewing the safety of the crop.

Join the Cornell Alliance for Science and support #scienceNOTviolence.

Scientists should not be subject to threats of violence and intimidation in conducting their work.

Please sign and share the Alliance's petition below to show the Brazilian government that the international community condemns the recent vandalism and to urge scientists to continue their important work.  Link to petition:

A YouTube video of the raid is posted onlineFuturagene, producing the GM trees stated that “Early in the morning about 500 peasants invaded our main site in Itapetininga, Sao Paulo State, and destroyed all the plants we had in our greenhouses.  Later in the morning during the CTNBio meeting in Brasília, when discussion and voting of our product started, the peasants invaded the room and stopped the meeting. It will take some time to recover the germplasm loss, but these events only give us more strength to move on.