The first genetically modified sugarcane in the world was approved in Brazil for commercial release on June 8.
The new variety, called CTC 20 Bt, has resistance to the sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis), the main plague that threatens the crop and is responsible for losses of R$5 billion annually.
The GM sugarcane, developed by CTC Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira SA, was approved by the National Technical Commission of Biosafety (CTNBio). According to the evaluation of the regulating agency, the sugarcane is considered safe for environmental aspects, as well as for human and animal health.
“The approval of the Bt cane by CTNBio is a great conquest of CTC and the national sugar/energy sector. Besides economic gains, the producer will be able to simplify logistics and improve the environmental management of its operations,” highlighted Gustavo Leite, president of CTC.
According to the maker, the scientific dossier containing studies and technical information about the genetically modified cane submitted to CTNBio proves that sugarcane and ethanol obtained through the new variety are identified as derivative products of the conventional cane. According to this evidence, the Bt gene, as well as the protein, are completely eliminated in the sugarcane derivates during the procedure of fabrication. Negative effects on soil composition, biodegradability and the insect populations, were not found, except for the target plagues.
“The procedure of propagation is similar to the introduction of a conventional variety like the cane of the first years being used for the expansion of the planted area and the non-approval of the sugarcane and ethanol production. This procedure is aligned with the chronogram of obtaining international approvals for sugar produced in the GMO cane,” Leite explained.
“In the next few years, we plan to expand the portfolio of varieties resistant to borer, adapted to each of the producing regions in Brazil. Besides, CTC also plans to develop resistant varieties to other insects, as well as those tolerant to herbicides,” he concluded.