Tag Archives: GE Eucalyptus

BREAKING: Protesters disrupt genetically engineered trees corporate event

May 14, 2014. Source: Global Justice Ecology Project

Industry Warned: “Plant genetically engineered trees and expect resistance”

Tallahassee, FL (US) – Demonstrators today interrupted an event hosted by genetically engineered (GE) tree company ArborGen, warning participants to expect growing protests should they plant GE trees. The event brought together landowners and foresters from the industrial tree plantation industry and featured top ArborGen scientists working on GE trees.

“We sent a clear message to participants — plant genetically engineered trees and expect resistance,” said Keith Brunner, an organizer with Global Justice Ecology Project. “Invasive GE eucalyptus, planned for deployment across the US South, would irrevocably devastate native ecosystems, exacerbate droughts and lead to catastrophic firestorms. This must be stopped before it is too late.”

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expected soon to accept public comments following the release of its draft Environmental Impact Statement on ArborGen’s request to commercially sell millions of potentially flammable and invasive genetically engineered eucalyptus trees, for planting across the US South from South Carolina to Texas. The USDA will ultimately issue a final decision approving or denying ArborGen’s request.

GJEP member Keith Brunner and Stephanie Hall, Toad Clan, Seminolee Miccosukee, interrupt an ArborGen event. Photo: Will Bennington/GJEP

Stephanie Hall, a member of the Toad clan of the Seminolee Miccosukee People, interrupts the ArborGen event. Photo: Will Bennington/GJEP

If approved, ArborGen’s freeze-tolerant GE eucalyptus, designed to be planted in industrial tree plantations for bioenergy and pulp production, would be the first commercially approved GE forest tree in the US. Approval of GE eucalyptus could open the door to approval for other GE species like GE pine and poplar, which pose additional risks due to the likelihood of contamination of wild relatives in native forests.

Stephanie Hall, a member of the Toad Clan of the Seminolee Miccosukee People, also pointed out the link between ArborGen’s plans and the history of genocide against Indigenous Peoples in the region: “ArborGen could not be planning for the development of vast industrial plantations of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees on land in Florida without the previous history of genocide and forced removal of Indigenous men, women, children, plants and animals from the region. People should not be complicit in this — we must ban genetically engineered trees.”

“Early last year, the USDA received nearly 40,000 comments opposing ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus, with only a handful received in favor,” stated Anne Petermann,Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project.  “Then in May of 2013, the international Tree Biotechnology conference in Asheville, NC was protested and disrupted for almost a week by hundreds of protesters. These protests and today’s disruption are only the beginning. As the USDA considers ArborGen’s request to legalize GE trees, opposition to these trees and the threats they pose to communities and native forests continues to grow.”

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples

Historic protests disrupt industry conference

Note: Anne Petermann is the Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and the Coordinator of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees.  Orin Langelle is the Board Chair of GJEP and the Director of Langelle Photography.  You can sign the petition calling on the USDA to deny ArbrorGen’s application to deregulate cold-tolerant genetically engineered eucalyptus here: http://bit.ly/axNIjq

-The GJEP Team

By Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle, July 1, 2013. Source: Z Magazine

Photo: Langelle/photolangelle.org for GJEP

Photo: Langelle/photolangelle.org for GJEP

Hundreds of activists from across the country converged on Asheville, North Carolina from Sunday, May 26 to Saturday, June 1 to protest the Tree Biotechnology 2013 conference, hosted by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). They came to raise vocal and determined opposition to genetically engineered trees (GE trees). The conference occurs every two years and brings together leading tree engineers, students, and corporate representatives to discuss the science and politics of genetically engineering trees.

The conference was disrupted or protested by activists even before it began and almost every day it took place. On May 25, more than 1,000 people joined the March Against Monsanto in Asheville, with a vocal contingent protesting GE trees. On Monday morning, two Asheville residents were arrested after invading the conference and disrupting the opening session of the day. On Tuesday, the largest protest yet against GE trees took place as hundreds of people marched through the streets and rallied outside the conference hotel. A conference field trip on Wednesday was cancelled due to the threat of protests. On Thursday, three activists were arrested while blocking a conference bus headed to an exclusive dinner at the Biltmore Estate.

To read the entire article, go to Z Magazine.

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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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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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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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Press Release: Campaign to target genetically engineered trees at Occupy Monsanto conference

For Immediate Release: 13 September, 2012

St. Louis, MO–The Campaign to Stop GE Trees  http://nogetrees.org will participate in the Occupy Monsanto conference here on September 16-17 to sound the alarm about the dangers genetically engineered trees pose to communities, wildlife and forests. The campaign asserts that Monsanto is complicit in this emerging hazard.

Monsanto’s glyphosate-based RoundUp herbicide will be used to control weeds around trees that are genetically engineered to be “RoundUp Ready,” or resistant to that herbicide. Use of this trait in GMO crops led to a documented tripling in the use of the herbicide, resulting in widespread problems with RoundUp resistant weeds, which require applications of more toxic herbicides to eliminate them. [1]

Just as GMO seed giant Monsanto has flooded the global market with their patented GMO seeds, ArborGen, which specializes in genetically engineered tree seedlings, intends to do the same. [2] ArborGen is a joint project of International Paper, MeadWestvaco and New Zealand-based Rubicon and one of their original joint owners was Monsanto.

“It’s clear from researching ArborGen’s public relations messaging that they see themselves as the new Monsanto,” stated Will Bennnington, of Global Justice Ecology Project. “They plan to follow the ruthless Monsanto model and don’t care who gets hurt in the process,” he added.

The links between ArborGen and Monsanto run deep. Numerous current and former staff had long tenures at Monsanto before being employed by ArborGen. [3]

“If ArborGen floods the market with their dangerous and uncontrollable GE trees, these trees will inevitably and irreversibly escape into the environment,” explained Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the Campaign to Stop GE Trees. “Patent law has enabled Monsanto to infamously sue farmers for possessing their GMO seeds after these seeds contaminated farmers’ lands. Think what that could mean to National Forests, National Parks or even private landowners if ArborGen’s invasive GE trees were found on those lands,” she continued.

ArborGen currently has a request pending with the USDA to commercially sell hundreds of millions of their GE eucalyptus tree seedlings annually for planting across the US South, claiming they will be used for bioenergy production and climate change mitigation. [4] GE eucalyptus, however, are highly flammable and could lead to uncontrollable firestorms, which would release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Jim Hightower has referred to ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus trees as ‘living firecrackers’.”

Contacts:

Keith Brunner, Media Associate, Global Justice Ecology Project, +1.802.777.5244

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project /Coordinator of the Campaign to Stop GE Trees, on site. Mobile +1.802.578.0477

Notes:

[1] Benbrook, C (2009). “Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years,” The Organic Center, November 2009. http://www.organic-center.org/science.pest.php?action=view&report_id=159

[2] ArborGen CEO presentation, May 2012: https://www.nzx.com/files/attachments/157094.pdf and Rubicon 2011 Interim Reviewhttp://www.rubicon-nz.com/main.cfm?menu=left&ItemId=268

[3] http://www.arborgen.us/index.php/about-arborgen/management

[4] Rubicon 2010 Annual Review: http://www.rubicon-nz.com/main.cfm?menu=news&ItemId=100

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