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Brazil’s first GM sugarcane deemed safe by US FDA

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Image / lzf
© Getty Image / lzf
The United States Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that raw and refined sugar produced from Brazil's first genetically-modified sugarcane variety is safe.

The insect-protected sugarcane, called CTC20BT, was developed by the Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira, a 100% national company focused on research, development, and marketing of varieties of sugarcane and other disruptive technologies.

The US FDA focused its safety assessment on data that showed the highly refined sugar was compositionally identical to sugar produced from conventional varieties. The Agency focused on sugar because it is the main sugarcane-derived product imported to the US from Brazil.

Earlier this year, a similar approval for sugar from Health Canada earlier this year. The sugarcane was first approved for cultivation in Brazil by CTNBio – Brazil's National Biosafety Technical Committee, in June 2017.


The new sugarcane variety produces the Cry1Ab Bt protein to establish resistance to the sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis​), a major destructive pest in Brazil that causes damage and loss estimated at $1 billion/year.

The Bt protein found in CTC20BT, has a long history of use and has been used widely in global agriculture for over 20 years in biotechnology-derived crops like maize, and cotton, among others.

In addition to sugar refining, the Brazilian sugarcane sector uses sugarcane by products domestically to produce ethanol fuel for vehicles and to burn to generate electricity. 

Shareholders of the Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira include BNDESPar and the main groups of the sugar-ethanol sector, representing more than 60% of the production of sugar and ethanol in Brazil.



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