Category Archives: Forests

GMO Chestnuts Draw Scrutiny this Holiday

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During the holidays, a time of the iconic roasting of chestnuts, scientists and activists are raising alarms about these efforts to genetically engineer and widely release GE American chestnuts into U.S. forests. Syracuse.com recently reported in “Breakthrough at SUNY-ESF” that researchers at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry are growing 10,000 genetically engineered (GE) American chestnut trees to be distributed widely when approved. The GMO chestnuts produced by these trees would be a new GMO food when concerns about GMOs and labeling are mounting.

BJ McManama is the GE trees campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network. She is based in the mountains of North Carolina, a central location for potential release of GE American chestnuts. In October she organized an Indigenous Peoples’ Action Camp against GE trees in Cherokee, NC.

She said, “As Indigenous Peoples we know that GE trees will threaten our cultural heritage, tradition, sovereignty and health. Even today, many of our people survive through subsistence methods — hunting, gathering, fishing and even our shelters are obtained from our forests. Trees are sacred. They are the children of our mother and our nurturer. We cannot stand idly by as the American chestnut, on which our people depend, is engineered into something that could wind up poisoning the land, air, water and the people. Forests are the source of our spiritual life and knowledge, and we wholly reject any attempts to change the sacred ancient blueprint of these trees — to destroy their spirit.”

Anne Petermann is the executive director of Buffalo, NY-based Global Justice Ecology Project and the coordinator of the International Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, which includes organizations, scientists, Indigenous Peoples and activists from around the world and is dedicated to preventing the commercial release of all genetically engineered trees. The majority of the research into GE American chestnuts and most of the outdoor test plots are located in New York State.

Petermann said, “GE trees pose unique and potentially disastrous risks to forests due to their longevity, the vast distances over which they spread pollen and seeds and their intricate relationship with complex forest ecosystems, but these GE American chestnut trees are even more dangerous. They are also completely unnecessary. They will supposedly be resistant to the blight that wiped out American chestnut trees in the last century, but the truth is blight resistant chestnuts are being developed through non-GE traditional breeding. But if fertile GE chestnuts are released into Eastern U.S. forests, which is the plan, they will contaminate both wild chestnuts and hybrid chestnuts. The impacts are unknown, but it will certainly ruin decades of work done by American chestnut breeding programs. This GE American chestnut tree is a Pandora’s box of potential disasters best left closed.”

Smolker is an evolutionary biologist and a steering committee member of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees. She is based in Vermont, one of the first states to mandate the labeling of GMO food.

She said, “These GE American chestnut trees are nothing more than a Trojan horse intended to smooth the way for commercial release of a host of other dangerous engineered trees, including GE eucalyptus and GE poplars. The tree biotechnology industry­ — companies like ArborGen — are faced with severe public opposition, so now they are trying to use chestnut tree ‘restoration’ as a cover to gain broader public acceptance of GE trees. GE chestnuts and other trees are an unnecessary, undesirable, and hazardous product of the techno-obsessed mindset that assumes genetic codes are like Lego sets that can be engineered to our specifications. But nature just doesn’t work that way. The impacts of these engineered chestnuts will be completely unpredictable. I certainly do not want to be roasting GE chestnuts over an open fire this holiday season.”

 

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Filed under Biiotechnology, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Greenwashing, Uncategorized

Trees won’t be our carbon sink saviors after all (good for them!)

shutterstock via grist article linked below

Shutterstock via Grist article linked below

So, shockingly, nature again won’t do what we want.

A new study challenges hopes that tropical rainforest trees will grow faster with rising CO2 and mitigate climate change.

The study concludes that the “widespread assumption of a Co2-induced stimulation of tropical tree growth may not be valid.” The authors focused on tree rings, and it’s possible that added growth might be in new trees or in other parts besides the trunk, making for increased density, but it still puts the brakes on one line of wishful thinking.

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Filed under Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Forests, Forests and Climate Change

Indigenous Amazon Leader Denounces REDD on Democracy Now!

Another blow to REDD: a false solution to climate change that is giving big polluters license to continue polluting, as well as displacing Indigenous Peoples around the world from their lands. For more on the dangers and impacts of REDD on Indigenous Peoples, watch this important interview on Democracy Now!

Brazilian Indigenous Leader: Carbon Trading Scheme “REDD” a False Solution to Climate Change

Democracy Now!, 11 December 2014

The controversial carbon trading scheme known as REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, has set off protests not only in Africa, but also in South America, especially in the Amazon region. We speak to Chief Ninawa Huni Kui, president of the Federation of the Huni Kui, an indigenous group in Brazil. He has traveled to the U.N. climate summit in Lima to voice his opposition to REDD.

Click here to view the interview on Democracy Now!

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Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD

The Green Economy, Forest Peoples and Territories: Rights Violations in Acre, Brazil

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – As officials from California EPA and members of the California Air Resources Board attend the United Nations Conference of Parties in Lima, Peru this week, they should consider the negative social and economic impacts of linking California’s carbon markets with forest protection efforts in Acre, Brazil, suggests a new report from the Brazilian Platform for Human, Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples

Earth Minute: Anne Petermann Reports from Paraguay

Ada from the Solomon Islands. If biomass energy is not stopped, her islands will continue to drown.  Photo credit: GJEP-GFC

Ada from the Solomon Islands. If biomass energy is not stopped, her islands will continue to drown. Photo credit: GJEP-GFC

In this week’s Earth Minute, Anne Petermann reports from Asunción, Paraguay, where she participated in a series of meetings put together by Global Forest Coalition to discuss deforestation and its underlying drivers, including biofuels and wood-based bioenergy (which will some day include genetically engineered trees, if Brazil has its way), and all over the continent, but especially here in Paraguay, cattle ranching and the livestock industry.

GJEP partners with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Los Angeles for weekly Earth Minutes on Tuesday and Earth Watch interviews on Thursday.

 

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Earth Minute, Earth Radio, Forests, GE Trees, Posts from Anne Petermann

Another industry scam, this time Alberta tar sands investors left high and dry!

As the Saudi’s continue to flood the market with cheap oil in an attempt to break the economic back of Russia, investors in the Canadian tar sands (Hello Koch Brothers?) are in a bit of a first world pinch. This excellent expose published in The Ecologist shows how fossil fuel companies ware misleading investors and potential investors by greatly understating the risks of lower oil prices, higher costs for environmental damages, and new green house gas regulations. Something has to give, right?

The Syncrude Aurora Oil Sands Mine, north of Fort McMurray, Canada. Photo: Elias Schewel via Flickr.

The Syncrude Aurora Oil Sands Mine, north of Fort McMurray, Canada. Photo: Elias Schewel via Flickr.

 

Tar sands industry faces ‘existential’ $246 billion loss
By Gregory McGann, The Ecologist. 27th November 2014

The exploitation of Canada’s tar sands is more than just an environmental catastrophe, writes Gregory McGann. It’s also an turning into an economic disaster, with massive investments at risk as falling oil prices leave the tar sands stranded.

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Filed under Climate Change, Energy, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Frontline Communities, Keystone XL, Oil, Tar Sands

Pentagon Declares War on Forests!

Thanks to Denny Haldeman and our friends at the Biomass Monitor for that headline and alerting us to this story at Syracuse.com, the online source of the Syracuse Post-Standard.

In this Nov. 12, 2014 photo, a tractor-trailer loaded with wood chips is lifted and the chips dumped into a hopper at the ReEnergy biomass power plant at Fort Drum, N.Y. The biomass power plant is part of a military-wide initiative to put green energy systems on installations nationwide. (Mary Esch)

In this Nov. 12, 2014 photo, a tractor-trailer loaded with wood chips is lifted and the chips dumped into a hopper at the ReEnergy biomass power plant at Fort Drum, N.Y. The biomass power plant is part of a military-wide initiative to put green energy systems on installations nationwide. (Mary Esch)

 

Fort Drum powered by wood-burning power plant in renewable energy push

AP, 23 November 2014

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) — Bulldozers rumble up and down steaming mountains of wood chips 24 hours a day, stoking the boilers that provide electricity to all 168 square miles of Fort Drum, home of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change

This Holiday Season say NO to GMO Chestnuts

by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

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A nut rests in the spiny bur of a rare surviving American chestnut tree. A fungus wiped out almost all of the trees, which once numbered in the billions. (The American Chestnut Foundation/Via Associated Press)

In a society rising up against the corporate capture of our food supply in the form of GMOs, a new untested and not-yet-approved GMO food is being promoted: the GMO chestnut.

A recent op-ed in the Washington Posthowevermakes the silly assertion that this emerging new GMO food will be the answer to hunger and a step toward reconnecting with our food supply:

Repopulating our woods — and even our yards, our commons and our courthouse lawns — with [GE] American chestnuts would put a versatile, nutritious, easily harvested food source within reach of just about everyone. For those living on the margins, it could be a very real hedge against want. For everyone, it could be a hedge against distancing ourselves from our food, which can be the first step toward a diet low in the whole foods that virtually every public health authority tells us we should eat more of.

Really?  A food source for the poor?  People are going to be heading out with their burlap sacks collecting GMO chestnuts to roast, grind into flour or boil into candy?  This is the answer to hunger?  And what is the health impact of eating GMO chestnuts?  Is this even being assessed?  No.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Greenwashing