Category Archives: Greenwashing

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

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

GE American chestnuts: Conservation or Trojan Horse?

This week’s Earth Minute delves into the concerns with genetically engineered American chestnut trees.

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 Biodiversity, Earth Minute, Earth Radio, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Greenwashing

The American Chestnut Foundation puts forests at risk with Frankentrees!

The American Chestnut Foundation is leading efforts to introduce genetically engineered (GE) American Chestnut trees back into the eastern North American deciduous forest ecosystem.

The native tree (Castanea dentata) was nearly obliterated by an imported blight during the first part of the 20th century.  It was a crucial part of the forests ecosystem which stretched from Maine in the U.S.; south through the Appalachians and into Missouri; throughout much of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, the Virginias, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama.  This forest also is found in Southeastern Canada including Quebec and Ontario.

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees, in collaboration with Global Justice Ecology Project is developing a major campaign to challenge the introduction of genetically engineered American Chestnuts into these ecosystems.

Read a fact sheet here.

The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, up to 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range.

The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, up to 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range. Source: American Chestnut Foundation

While lauded in many quarters as a step toward “bringing back the native forests,” there are critical reasons to believe that the introduction of GE American chestnut trees is a dangerous practice and may lead to further demise of ecosystems, the wildlife that depends on them, and ultimately human well-being. In their October campaign appeal, the American Chestnut Foundation may have let the real cat out of the bag, or revealed the camels nose under the tent–funding for research and introduction of synthetic trees into forest ecosystems.

Excerpts from the appeal letter from American Chestnut Foundation, October 2014

As important as the American chestnut is to our ecosystem, its successful restoration will have an even greater significance. We believe our model can be applied to other endangered trees such s the ash, elm, and hemlock. Our continue success will help ensure that other trees under grave threat of annihilation will also be saved.

Our scientists, in partnership with many universities and non-profits, are using the best tools available to advance our American chestnut breeding program. We are using cutting edge technologies to develop genetic makers for blight resistance, hypo virulence strategies, and advance screening techniques for ink disease. Only through science can we successfully restore this iconic species.

Betsy Gamber, Interim President and CEO

Kim Steiner, Ph.D Chairman of the Board of Directors

Read more about GE Chestnut work here.

We know that the ultimate achievements of these programs will further institutionalize the commodification of forests and forest products, turning more of our unprotected natural resources into short term profits for industry that considers the environment an externality. We want you to know this as well. Read more about GE Trees and the STOP GE Trees Campaign.

We intend to stop this and we need your help. In the coming weeks and months we will be posting here at Climate Connections news and maybe an occasional fundraising appeal to support our work. We will work to keep ourselves, our partners, and our readers educated and informed on these critical forest and ecosystem issues.

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Filed under Biodiversity, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, GMOs, Great Lakes, Greenwashing, Pollution, Synthetic Biology, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

National Bioenergy Day is a “Dirty Sham”

This press release was sent on Oct. 22, 2014, from Biofuelwatch, Dogwood Alliance, Energy Justice Network, Partnership for Policy Integrity, Save America’s Forests, and Global Justice Ecology Project.

Groups across the country denounce “National Bioenergy Day” as a dirty sham

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Groups around the country denounce the Biomass Power Association, Biomass Thermal Energy Council and their industry partners’ designation of this date as “National Bioenergy Day.” Pointing to growing opposition to bioenergy facilities around the nation and the world, they say burning trees, contaminated wastes, and garbage is grossly and dangerously misrepresented by industry advocates as “clean, green, and carbon neutral.”  The groups point out that biomass power pumps more CO2 into the atmosphere than even coal, along with comparable amounts of toxic air pollution, while also posing new threats to forests, ecosystems, and our health.

Rachel Smolker, Ph.D., co-director of Biofuelwatch, states: “The biomass industry has perpetrated a series of dangerous myths that they just keep repeating to ensure ongoing subsidies and supports. The Biomass Power Association website, for example, is rife with misleading statements, for example proclaiming to ‘Light America with clean, green biomass power—a natural solution to energy independence.’ This is utter nonsense as we would need several planets worth of biomass to provide any significant portion of overall US energy demand from biomass.” (1)

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, BREAKING NEWS, Dr. Rachel Smolker, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing

Partnership for Policy Integrity Maps Biomass Polluters in Pennsylvania

BurningWoodJust in time for National Bioenergy Day (October 22), the biomass industry’s biggest BS marketing day, the Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) has released a new report and online database identifying “The 100 Most Polluting Biomass Energy Facilities in Pennsylvania.”

Industry calls biomass energy “a way to keep forests healthy” and touts burning wood as a “green” solution to energy and climate change.

This false solution, characterized by destruction of forest ecosystems and release of airborne toxins, should be an embarrassment, not a marketing ploy.

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

Brazil to Build Huge Biomass Plant

BOLT Energias has secured the 150 MW Campo Grande biomass power plant.  The facility will be operational in 2017, and will be fueled with woody biomass. This will be Brazil’s largest biomass plant. Areva has already constructed 95 biomass plants globally with a total installed capacity of over 2,500MW.

French Energy Firm Areva will build the BOLT Energias 150MW Campo Grande biomass plant.

French Energy Firm Areva will build the BOLT Energias 150MW Campo Grande biomass plant.

 Areva secures contract to build Brazil’s largest biomass power plant

Clean Technology Business Review (CBTR)  15 October 2014

French energy firm Areva has secured a contract to build the 150MW Campo Grande biomass power plant for Brazilian utility BOLT Energias.

Planned to be built in the northeastern state of Bahia, the Campo Grande plant is claimed to be the largest biomass facility in Brazil.

The contract requires Areva to deliver engineering, procurement and construction services for the plant, which will feature three 50MW modules.

The facility, which is expected to commence operations in 2017, will be fueled with woody biomass.

Areva Renewables CEO Louis-François Durret said: “Awarded as part of the first biomass plant project undertaken in Brazil in recent years, this success illustrates BOLT Energias’ recognition of AREVA’s knowledge in construction and technological expertise.

“This contract will mark the first step of a successful collaboration with our Brazilian partner.”

Areva has already constructed 95 biomass plants globally, with a total installed capacity of over 2,500MW.

Read the whole article here

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

Is Big Ag the new Christopher Columbus?

The Big Ag gold rush from governments and private investors claims to support small farmers, fight global hunger and create jobs. However, an article posted on GRAIN, shows how the only group supporter is the least in need — elite 1 percent.

A new wave of investment threatens to push peasant farmers off the land and erode food sovereignty. Photo: Cargo Collective

A new wave of investment threatens to push peasant farmers off the land and erode food sovereignty. Photo: Cargo Collective

Big Ag investors, like Chinnakannan Sivasankaran and Siva Group, overtake the industry through extremely unethical practices, such as land grabbing, commodification of land, marginalization of local communities and palm oil plantations. This news is particularly poignant, especially as U.S. citizens misguidedly celebrate Columbus Day, possibly the worst national holiday, which is a day dedicated to a land grabbing, mass-murdering historical hero of the 1 percent.

Feeding the 1 percent
by GRAIN, 7 October 2014

Since the global food crisis of 2008, there has been a massive wave of private sector investment in agriculture. More money flowing into agriculture means more innovation and modernisation, more jobs and more food for a hungry planet, say the G8, the World Bank and corporate investors themselves.

But does it?

Looking at the investments made by Indian billionaire Chinnakannan Sivasankaran – one of the most active private sector players in the global rush to acquire farmland – a worrying picture emerges of what happens when speculative finance starts flowing into food production.

Since 2008, the Siva Group and its myriad subsidiaries have acquired stakes in around a million hectares of land in the Americas, Africa and Asia, primarily for oil palm plantations. On paper, he’s now one of the world’s largest farmland holders.

Read the full article here.

 

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Greenwashing, Land Grabs