Category Archives: Genetic Engineering

GMO Chestnuts Draw Scrutiny this Holiday


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. 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

Photo Essay: The Pillaging of Paraguay

Woman holds photo of baby whose condition is blamed on agrotoxins, during rally in Asunción, Paraguay, 3 Dec 2014.

Woman holds photo of baby whose condition is blamed on agrotoxins, during rally in Asunción, Paraguay, 3 Dec 2014.

“All signs show that Paraguay, both its territory and its population, are under attack by conquerors, but conquerors of a new sort. These new ‘conquistadors’ are racing to seize all available arable land and, in the process, are destroying peoples’ cultures and the country’s biodiversity — just as they are in many other parts of the planet, even in those areas that fall within the jurisdiction of ‘democratic’ and ‘developed’ countries. Every single foot of land is in their crosshairs. Powerful elites do not recognize rural populations as having any right to land at all.” – Dr. Miguel Lovera

Photographs by Orin Langelle. Analysis at the end of the essay by Dr. Miguel Lovera from the case study: The Environmental and Social Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock Farming and Soybean Production in Paraguay. Dr. Lovera was the President of SENAVE, the National Plant Protection Agency, during the government of Fernando Lugo.

To view the entire photo essay click here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biiotechnology, Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Frontline Communities, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Pesticides

Groups condemn human trials for GM banana

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) released an open letter to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Wendy White from Iowa State University (ISU) and the Human Institutional Review Board of Iowa State strongly opposing the GM banana human feeding trials taking place at ISU.

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The bananas have been genetically modified to contain more beta-carotene, intended to combat the health impacts of Vitamin A deficiencies that occur frequently in Uganda. More than 120 organizations, along with farmers, advocates and indigenous communities have signed the open letter, claiming the GM banana poses not only a health and ecological risk, but is also a demeaning insult to the rich Ugandan food and cultural heritage.

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Filed under Africa, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, GMOs

Monsanto Stock Value Plummets–Worst in Seven Years

Hopefully this decline in Monsanto’s stock value will pass along to investor wariness about new GMOs like genetically engineered trees. Visit our petition against GE trees here.

Victory: Monsanto Stock Downgraded, Worst Growth In 7 Years
By Christina Sarich, December 8th, 2014

Here’s one for the history books, and a slap on the wrist for stock-holders like Bill Gates and George Soros. Monsanto stock has been downgraded to ‘Neutral’ from ‘Buy’ after an annual seed dealer industry survey showed bleak returns.

This may be the most depressing news in seven years for Monsanto, but great news for the seed industry, which has been monopolized by the chemical peddler since the early 1990s. The target price for (MON +0.1%) has been lowered from $140 to $127. Conditions affecting the downgrade include “greater discounting, reduced trait purchases, reduced spending on seeds, and share gains for non-major seeds brands” – with hardly a mention of the grass-roots, and international efforts of people to shine a light on Monsanto’s illegal influence on the world seed market.

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Filed under Biiotechnology, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Monsanto, Uncategorized, Victory!

Judge in Hawaii GMO case has ties to Monsanto

Not surprised? Really, neither are we. We find Monsanto in so many fields, why not in the field of law?

According to a post on Mass Report, the magistrate overseeing Monsanto’s lawsuit against Maui, Hawaii, for banning GMO crops, has significant ties to the Big Ag giant. Judge Barry Kurren’s wife has been the head of several organizations that have received funds from Monsanto, including the University of Hawaii Foundation and the Nature Conservatory.

If nothing else, you have to love this graphic. Photo: Mass Report

If nothing else, you have to love this graphic. Photo: Mass Report

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Filed under Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Monsanto

GJEP in FL: No to Mutant Mosquitoes


GJEP’s GE Trees campaigner, Ruddy, located in Florida, participated in a town hall last night in Key West held by UK-based Oxitec and Florida Keys officials about their plans for building a mosquito-rearing facility, importing mosquitos from England, releasing the GE mosquitoes for a trial period in Key Haven, and the releasing them on a large scale.

The GE mosquitoes are intended to lower overall rates and control the spread of disease, but scientists around the world and members of the local communities identify all the ways this could go really, really wrong.

Food and Water Watch and FOE came out with this fact sheet: GMO Mosquito Fact Sheet

GE Mosquitoes are not new though, nor is the controversy: Climate Connections has been following it for year, and here’s still very useful information from EcoNexus, including a scientific opinion by Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, in response to Oxitech’s 2010 move into Malaysia.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Frontline Communities, Genetic Engineering, GMOs

Dr. Martha Crouch: Wild, free, and genetically engineered? Not so fast.

Photo: Langelle/

Photo: Langelle/

On November 14th, published a response by Dr. Martha Crouch to a story they ran about SUNY ESF’s work on genetically engineered chestnut trees. Her response led to a very active conversation online. Here we’re publishing the full response, which was slightly cut and edited by, the online source of the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Imagine this headline: “Bald eagles genetically engineered with pigeon genes to withstand toxic pesticides ready for release back into wild, say researchers.” Or, “Scientists genetically engineer endangered Florida panthers with synthetic DNA to resist deadly virus.”

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Filed under GE Trees, Genetic Engineering

Virginia Beach man steals millions in the name of biotech

We all know that government regulations for the biotech industry are relaxed (to say the least). Well, the government isn’t the only one placing an undue amount of blind trust into the billion dollar Big Ag industry. Banks have been fooled, as well.

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After claiming to be a scientist heading up a corporation that produces genetically engineered trees, Suntrust awarded 52-year-old Irfan M. Jameel a loan of “$3 million to buy a waterfront property in Virginia Beach. Gateway Bank loaned him $2.375 million, and a local credit union gave him a $46,000 car loan, according to court documents.” All of this information comes from an article posted on Virginia Beach’s local news station

Mr. Jameel, was, of course, engineering the whole sham. Get more details, including the sentence the judge bestowed upon this “GE trees scientist.”

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Filed under GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Humor