Category Archives: Genetic Engineering

KPFK Earth Minute: Major protests against genetically engineered trees at biotech industry conference

kpfk_logoGlobal Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Earth Radio, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering

Hundreds protest genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in North Carolina

Note: News is spreading around the world about the largest protests ever against the genetically engineered tree industry.  Global Justice Ecology Project would like to thank everyone who has participated in or supported this week of action.  Stay tuned to Climate Connections for more updates.  The fun is not over yet.

-The GJEP Team

By Mike Ludwig, May 29, 2013.  Source: Truthout

Protests are raging outside of a biotechnology conference in Asheville, North Carolina, where demonstrators are voicing opposition to proposals to grow genetically engineered eucalyptus trees across the southeastern United States.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched outside the Tree Biotechnology 2013 conference on Wednesday, and organizers said the protest was the largest against genetically engineered trees yet. On Tuesday, two Asheville residents were arrested after disrupting a presentation at the conference, according to a release from activist groups.

The protests come just days after an estimated 2 million people joined protests against biotech giant Monsanto in countries across the world.

Two major sponsors of the biotechnology conference in Asheville, FuturaGene andArborGen, have proposed to introduce genetically engineered eucalyptus trees for commercial cultivation in the United States and Brazil. The trees would be burned as a source of biomass energy.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering

Photo Essay: Hundreds descend upon Tree Biotech conference, demand ban on GE trees

By Will Bennington, May 28, 2013. Photos by Orin Langelle and Will Bennington.  Source: Global Justice Ecology Project

Just a day after two Asheville, NC residents were arrested for interrupting a talk at the Tree Biotechnology 2013 Conference, hundreds of demonstrators descended upon the conference center, throwing the biggest industry event of the year into utter chaos.

The demonstration – the world’s largest ever against GE trees – lasted four hours, and included speakers, singing, chanting and street theatre.

As part of a international movement against extreme energy extraction, demonstrators included members of Earth First!, Tar Sands Blockade, Mountain Justice and anti-mountaintop removal activists.  Local farmers, grandparents, children and students also participated.

Photo: Langelle/photolangelle.org for GJEP

GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann addresses a crowd of over 200 on the dangers of GE trees. Photo: Langelle/photolangelle.org for GJEP

The demonstration is a major milestone in the international Campaign to STOP GE Trees.  The USDA is currently considering an application from GE tree company ArborGen to deregulate cold-tolerant GE eucalyptus in seven states in the southeastern US.  Industry and activists alike recognize that massive public opposition is a major threat, influencing the USDA’s decision as well as the willingness of investors to sink cash into a highly controversial sector.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering

Industry conference in crisis amid mass protests against genetically engineered trees

May 28, 2013.  Source: Global Justice Ecology Project

Protestors sent a clear message to the GE tree industry and its investors - expect resistance.  Photo: Langelle/photolangelle.org for GJEP

Protestors sent a clear message to the GE tree industry and its investors – expect resistance. Photo: Langelle/photolangelle.org for GJEP

Asheville, NC (US)-Hundreds of demonstrators marched on an international forest biotechnology industry conference today, demanding a ban on the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment.

The protest, the largest yet against GE trees, occurred one day after two Asheville residents were arrested while disrupting a presentation titled “Engineering Trees for the Biorefinery.”

Following the arrests and the threat of protest today, the conference went on high alert. Police maintained a presence inside and outside the hotel conference center all day, participant badges were scrutinized, conference doors were locked during sessions, and hotel access restricted.

Two of the major conference sponsors, FuturaGene and ArborGen, are moving forward with plans to commercially release GE eucalyptus trees in Brazil and the US.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Victory!

March Against Monsanto: Organizations gear up for week-long protests and events against GE trees

May 25, 2013. Source: Global Justice Ecology Project

Participants in the march.  Photo: Langelle/langellephoto.org

Participants in the march. Photo: Langelle/langellephoto.org

Asheville, NC (US)-Groups and participants from the Campaign to STOP GE Trees rallied and marched in yesterday’s March Against Monsanto in Asheville, which drew over 1000 people.  Millions of people in hundreds of cities internationally protested the GMO food and chemical giant, Monsanto, condemning their unethical and dangerous practices.
 
Anti-GE tree demonstrators have converged in Asheville to confront the bi-annual Tree Biotechnology conference of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) that starts today and runs through Saturday, 1 June.  ArborGen, one of the sponsors of the IUFRO conference, wants to commercially sell millions of GE eucalyptus trees in seven southern states from South Carolina to Texas.

Thomas Llewellyn, who helped organize the Asheville March Against Monsanto, spoke to the thousand plus crowd before the march, stating, “It’s important to make the connection between companies like Monsanto with their GMO food and ArborGen and their GE trees.  When you look into it a little farther you can see that many Monsanto employees have gone to ArborGen and Monsanto was even an early partner in the venture that became ArborGen.”  Llewellyn continued, “Our food supply has been threatened with genetic contamination for a long time but we have a chance to stop these GE trees before it’s too late.”
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Events, Food Sovereignty, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs

“March Against Monsanto” planned for over thirty countries

Note: Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and coordinator of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, will be a featured speaker at the May 25 “March Against Monsanto” event in Asheville, North Carolina.

Activists from across the region are descending on Asheville to confront a major Tree Biotechnology conference held from May 26-June 1.  Especially targeted will be South Carolina-based ArborGen — originally formed as a partnership with Monsanto — which has a pending request to plant billions of Genetically Engineered eucalyptus trees in monoculture tree plantations across the US South.

Learn more at http://www.treebiotech2013.org

-The GJEP Team

Source: OpEd News

March Against Monsanto has announced that on May 25, tens of thousands of activists around the world will ” March Against Monsanto .” Currently, marches are being planned on six continents, in 36 countries, totaling events in over 250 cities, and in the US, events are slated to occur simultaneously at 11 a.m. Pacific in 47 states.

Tami Monroe Canal, lead organizer and creator of the now-viral Facebook page, says she was inspired to start the movement to protect her two daughters. “I feel Monsanto threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity. I couldn’t sit by idly, waiting for someone else to do something.” [The full March Against Monsanto mission statement can be read here.]

An organizer for the march in Athens, Greece, Roberta Gogos, spoke about the importance of the events in austerity-impacted South Europe. “Monsanto is working very hard to overturn EU regulation on obligatory labeling (questionable whether it’s really enforced in any case), and no doubt they will have their way in the end. Greece is in a precarious position right now, and Greece’s farmers falling prey to the petrochemical giant is a very real possibility.” Continue reading

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Fearing protestors, Tree Biotech Conference cancels field trip to industry site

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project is excited to be working with Katuah Earth First!, Croatan Earth First! and other partners to show the GE tree industry a great time in Asheville.  Click here for more info.  We hope you’ll join us at the end of May!

-The GJEP Team

By Tricocca/Katuah Earth First!, May 2, 2013. Source: Earth First! Newswire

Photo: Anne Petermann/GJEP

Photo: Anne Petermann/GJEP

There is still a month to go before activists hit the streets of Asheville, NC to protest the 2013 Tree Biotechnology Conference, but the industry is already showing signs of retreat. Apparently fearing that protestors will follow them wherever they go, the conference organizers recently cancelled a group trip to a test plot of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees. While the counties in which these test plots are planted are publicly known, the exact location of these mutant trees is a closely guarded secret. It seems they don’t want a mob of Earth First!ers to find out where they are!

The 2013 Tree Biotechnology Conference is an international gathering of scientists, forestry corporations and university researchers with a major focus on genetically engineered tree production. GE trees pose an unprecedented threat to native forests. Timber and utility corporations want to plant millions of acres genetically engineered trees throughout the South to burn for electricity, as well as to continue supplying the unsustainable lumber and paper industries. These trees would be engineered to produce their own pesticides, grow straighter and faster, tolerate manufactured pesticides, produce sterile seeds, and reduce lignin content (this is what makes the wood in a tree strong enough to stand up). If these traits escaped into native tree populations, the effects would be devastating and irreversible.

In another setback for the GE tree industry, the USDA just announced the results of their public comment period on the proposed approval of commercial plantings of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees. While over 30,000 people spoke out against the commercial planting of these Frankentrees, an underwhelming, four, yeah that’s right four, people spoke out in favor of planting GE trees. Though this public comment period shows that there is next to no support for GE trees, it is no time to let our guard down considering that government agencies regularly ignore the public opinion.
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U.S. public overwhelmingly rejects genetically engineered trees

April 30, 2013. Source: Global Justice Ecology Project

GE Trees protest photo

By a majority of almost 99.99% to .01%, the US public overwhelming rejected steps toward the legalization of genetically engineered trees during the USDA APHIS public comment period that ended yesterday. The comments were in response to a petition by genetically engineered (GE) tree company ArborGen requesting permission to commercially sell their GE freeze tolerant eucalyptus trees.  Calls for a ban on the technology flooded the APHIS office, through individual online comments, petitions and online virtual meetings.

“Yesterday, during APHIS’s ‘Invasive Species Month,’ the people of the US issued a firm demand to APHIS to reject invasive, flammable genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees,”said Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project Executive Director and Coordinator of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered (GE) Trees. “We will continue to hold the government accountable to the will of the people, rather than corporate interests.”

South Carolina-based ArborGen hopes to sell billions of GE cold-tolerant eucalyptus trees for planting across millions of acres in the US South in vast industrial plantations to supply biofuel, biomass electricity and paper production.

Dr. Rachel Smolker, Co-Director of Biofuelwatch stated, “ArborGen’s reckless vision of using the US South as a giant sacrifice zone for energy production would wreak havoc on rural communities, native forests and wildlife across the region, pushing already endangered species like the Louisiana Black Bear and the Red-cockaded Woodpecker over the edge.” Dr. Smolker added, “and despite the rhetoric about replacing fossil fuels with climate-friendly fuels, this wood-based energy will actually worsen climate change.”
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering