The government has authorized HB4 wheat and transgenic bread is approaching Argentine tables

The transgenic wheat in question has been given the green light by the national government. The measure benefits Bioceres, of which Gustavo Grobocopatel and Hugo Sigman are shareholders. The new transgenic will be able to contaminate conventional wheat, it involves the use of the herbicide glufosinate ammonium and, through all the flour derivatives, it will be in the Argentine diet.

The Ministry of Agriculture of the Nation completed this Thursday the registration of “wheat HB4”, the first transgenic wheat in the world. This allows the company Bioceres to market it, in order to start increasing the hectares planted with this crop resistant to glufosinate ammonium, a herbicide more toxic than glyphosate. Wheat — which will reach bread, noodles and all flour derivatives — had been approved by the accused Conabia (National Biotechnology Commission). The transgenic is rejected by wheat producers, scientists and even by the big entrepreneurs of the sector. The authorization contradicts the requests of the Federal Justice.

The government’s decision ignores the demands of hundreds of social and peasant organizations and thousands of scientists who demanded a halt to the advance of this transgenic. They denounce the lack of transparency in the approval procedure for HB4 wheat, the contamination it will produce on other non-transgenic wheat and the increased use of agrochemicals that its cultivation will entail.

The approval also goes against the measures requested by the federal prosecutor’s office and the official public defender’s office, which asked the judiciary to suspend him immediately. They warn that the mechanism by which the transgenic was authorized violates the General Environmental Law and Article 41 of the National Constitution, among other health and environmental protection regulations.

The portfolio headed by Julián Domínguez also did not comply with the order of federal judge Santiago Carrillo to implement a citizen participation process for the approval of this transgenic.

At the same time, chambers of grain producers and exporters are rejecting HB4 wheat because they believe it poses a serious commercial risk. “This rule entails a huge business risk, because the countries that buy from us do not accept HB4said the Grain Exporters Center in a statement released as soon as the approval became known. “The economic consequences of possible market losses will be the responsibility of the Ministry (of agriculture) and the development company (Bioceres)“, they warned.

The Bioceres company developed the transgenic wheat in partnership with scientist Raquel Chan, from Conicet and the Universidad Nacional del Litoral. The academic rejects arguments that warn (due to being transgenic) of more land clearing, peasant-indigenous evictions and greater use of agrochemicals, among other negative aspects.

Bioceres, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, counts among its shareholders the millionaires Gustavo Grobocopatel and Hugo Sigman.


Transgenic wheat for all

The decision of the Ministry of Agriculture was known by resolution 27/2022, published this Thursday in the Official Gazette. HB4 wheat, announced as drought-tolerant, had been approved by the Alberto Fernández government at the end of 2020. However, this authorization was subject to the approval of Brazil, the main importer of Argentine wheat. Almost a year later, the Brazilian Technical Commission for Biosafety (CTNbio) approved the commercialization of the flour – not the seed. In other words, the Brazilian government accepted the flour and its derivatives, but did not plant it on its territory.

This decision by Brazil, together with China’s recent approval of HB4 soybeans as well as Australia and New Zealand’s HB4 wheat, were the arguments used by Agriculture to complete the authorization.

Ongoing lawsuits

Agroecological producers in the province of Buenos Aires, who had already filed an amparo appeal to suspend transgenic wheat, announced that they would again submit measures to provincial and federal courts.

We will insist again with the preventive suspension of HB4 wheat in the provinces and seek an opinion from the National Directorate of Agroecologysaid Fernando Cabaleiro, lawyer for the organization Nature of Rights, which represents the producers. At the same time, they are going to demand that the National University of La Plata publish a report on the impacts of transgenics and the impossibility of coexistence of transgenic and agroecological wheat (due to the contamination of one compared to the other). In federal justice, they will also ask for a precautionary measure to protect agroecological wheat.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation is maintaining a delayed legal case in which the concerned neighbors, the federal prosecutor’s office and the office of the public defender requested the suspension of the authorization of wheat HB4.


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