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FuturaGenes Eucalyptus is Approved for Commercial Use in Brazil

This is a milestone in forest biotechnology. This GM forest tree is the first in the world to be commercialized for fiber production purposes.

São Paulo, Brazil, April 10, 2015 / B3C newswire / —
The Brazilian National Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) today approved the commercial use of the yield enhanced eucalyptus developed by FuturaGene, a wholly owned subsidiary of Suzano Pulp and Paper. Field experiments conducted since 2006 at various locations in Brazil have demonstrated an approximate 20% increase in yield compared to its equivalent conventional variety.

This is the first genetically modified (GM) eucalyptus event to be approved worldwide and represents the most significant productivity milestone for the renewable plantation forest industry since the adoption of clonal technology in the early 1990s. This approval also represents the beginning of a new era for sustainable forest management by enabling the production of more fiber, using less resources.  Brazil is the first country to complete the development cycle of such a technology.

The yield increase provided by the GM eucalyptus will provide economic, environmental and social benefits. The economic benefits include increased competitiveness for the Brazilian forestry sector. The main environmental benefits derived from using less land to produce more fiber will include lowered carbon emission through the reduction of distance between the forests and the mills, reduced use of chemical inputs and greater availability of land for other purposes, such as conservation and food production.

Partners of Suzano Pulp and Papers outgrowers program, including small landholders, who have already benefited from the company´s best seedlings for years, will have access to the technology under terms of current contracts, which do not involve the payment of royalties.

For Stanley Hirsch, FuturaGene CEO, the approval of this technology represents a breakthrough for the forestry industry: Producing more wood without increasing the use of natural resources is a constant challenge for all industry players. We are very proud to have developed an innovative technology that is capable of potentiating forestry industry competitiveness while benefitting society as a whole.

FuturaGenes yield-enhanced eucalyptus has been under development since 2001 and has undergone extensive biosafety assessment prior to submission for commercial approval.  According to Dr. Hirsch, the company has several additional products at different stages of development in its pipeline. This approval by CTNBio is an incentive for us to continue seeking innovative technological solutions that contribute for meeting the ever growing global demand for wood in a sustainable manner.

Subsequent to the approval, Suzano and FuturaGene will expand the field testing of the yield-enhanced eucalyptus in a graded and responsible manner.

FuturaGene is a leader in plant genetic research and development for the global forestry, biopower and biofuel markets. With facilities in Brazil, China and Israel, the company develops sustainable, ecologically sound technology to meet the ever increasing demands for fiber, fuel and energy crops in the face of declining land and water resources. Since July 2010, FuturaGene has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Suzano Pulp and Paper.

Suzano Pulp and Paper (Bovespa: SUZB5; OTC: SUZBY and Latibex), a subsidiary of Suzano Holding and part of the Suzano Group,  is one of the largest vertically integrated eucalyptus forestry, pulp and paper producers in Latin America. It has invested in the pulp and paper industry for over 90 years and its global operations span approximately 60 countries. The company operates six industrial units: Suzano, Rio Verde, Limeira and Embu in the state of São Paulo, Mucuri in the state of Bahia, and Imperatriz in the state of Maranhão. Suzano Pulp and Paper has an annual pulp and paper production capacity of 4.7 million tons.

Dr Christelle Kerouedan/Daniel Gooch
Instinctif Partners
London, UK
Work: +44 20 7457 2020

Sara El Kadri
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Work: +55 19 2108 3563


APHIS Withdraws 2008 Proposed Biotechnology Rules

WASHINGTON, February 27, 2015”The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is withdrawing its 2008 proposed rule that would have amended the regulations regarding the introduction (importation, interstate movement, and environmental release) of certain genetically engineered organisms.

APHIS received over 88,300 comments on the proposed rule. Based on the scope of comments received, and in light of the experience we have gained over the past 28 years as well as continuing advances in biotechnology, APHIS has decided to withdraw the rule and begin fresh stakeholder engagement aimed at exploring alternative policy approaches.

APHIS intends to utilize an open and robust dialogue to drive the development of future regulatory or policy approaches, as well as new scientific knowledge whenever it is available. That engagement will begin with a series of webinars that will be announced in the coming month.

From their Q&A:
Q: When can stakeholders and the public begin to share their input?
A: Once the 2008 proposed rule is officially withdrawn, APHIS can begin having conversations with stakeholders about regulatory issues that were not possible due to ex parte communication rules that apply during rule making. These rules are designed to prevent unequal access or the perception of favoritism during the active rulemaking period after a new rule is proposed.

IFB Comment: We see this as an opportunity to have even more meaningful discussions about biotechnology regulations that pertain to GM Trees.