Note: It’s only the second day of the conference, and the GE tree industry has already been met by two demonstrators, who were arrested yesterday after disrupting a talk on GE trees and biofuels. A major march is planned for today. For more on this, go to treebiotech2013.org. And stay tuned to Climate Connections for updates throughout the week.
Many thanks to Dr. Rachel Smolker, co-director of BiofuelWatch and longtime friend and colleague of Global Justice Ecology Project.
-The GJEP Team
By Dr. Rachel Smolker, May 24, 2013. Source: Huffington Post
This week in Asheville, N.C., the IUFRO “Tree Biotechnology” conference will meet. And the attendees will be met: by protests. Public opinion is unequivocally opposed to genetically engineered trees. When the South Carolina-based tree engineering company, ArborGen recently applied for deregulation of their freeze tolerant eucalyptus, APHIS responded by filing a “notice of intent” to conduct an environmental impact statement, and opened up for public comments on ArborGen’s petition. The comments the received were overwhelmingly negative by a vast majority.
Similarly, when ArborGen filed for permission to field test their frankeneucalyptus back in 2010, more than 17,500 comments opposing the tests were submitted, while only 39 were favorable. In spite of the abysmal approval ratings, USDA granted permission to field test the trees and then again granted permission to allow some plots to go to flower. A lawsuit was filed against USDA by a coalition of groups (Global Justice Ecology Project, Dogwood Alliance, Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity). In an article published in Biomass Magazine, spokesperson for the Biotechnology Industry Organization credited the suit as “… a hindrance to biomass development, as they discourage investment… It is creating a huge barrier.”
The International “Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees”, which has called for an international ban on commercial release of GE trees cheered their effectiveness as a “barrier.”