Clayton Thomas-Muller and Orin Langelle discuss the tar sands, Indigenous resistance to energy extraction, and the role of art and photography in resistance movements in this one hour Sojourner Truth show special.
Global 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.
Global Justice Ecology Project teams up weekly with Pacifica’s Sojourner Truth show hosted by Margaret Prescod to cover important news about the environment. Every Tuesday we produce an “Earth Minute” and each Thursday an “Earth Watch” interview segment with an activist from the front lines of the battle to protect mother Earth.
Police use pain compliance holds as they wrestle a protester to the ground. Activists were attempting to wrap a bus departing from the industry conference in GMO caution tape. A local organizer with Katuah Earth First! is thrown to the ground and arrested in front of the bus.
Will Bennington, an organizer with Global Justice Ecology Project and the Campaign to STOP GE Trees prior to being thrown into an Asheville Police paddy wagon. “You Spoil Our Forests – We Spoil Your Dinner” banner refers to blocking conference participants from attending an exclusive dinner at the Biltmore Estate – birthplace to industrial forestry in the US. Tree Engineer and industry mouthpiece Steve Strauss takes photos of the protesters as they chant at him. A security guard laughs. Local Katuah EF! zombie organizer. Police brutally pull and yank on peaceful activists Police wrestle and throw to the ground a local woman organizer. Zombie “Franken-tree” demonstrators bang on pots and pans and chant anti-GE tree slogan as arrests continue. Protesters vow that resistance will continue.
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.” Continue reading →
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–In advance of the UN’s Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, the international STOP GE Trees Campaign is demanding a global ban on the release of destructive and dangerous genetically engineered trees (also called GE trees, GMO trees or GM trees) into the environment.
A major focus of the UN summit is so-called “renewable” or “sustainable” energy, and Ban Ki Moon, Executive Secretary of the UN has launched a highly controversial “Sustainable Energy for All” (SEFA) Initiative. This initiative includes use of trees to produce electricity or liquid agrofuels and there is an emphasis by industry to genetically engineer trees as feedstocks for this bioenegy production, and Brazil is one of the most active countries promoting this.
“Much of the research on GE trees in Brazil is focused on eucalyptus trees, which are being engineered for faster growth, and for modified wood qualities–such as increased cellulose and decreased lignin content. These engineered traits will facilitate the production of wood-based bioenergy,” stated Isis Alvarez of Global Forest Coalition.
“The dramatic and dangerous impacts of non-GMO industrial eucalyptus plantations are well documented and include invasiveness, desertification of soils, depletion of water, increased threat of wildfire and loss of biodiversity,” stated Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the STOP GE Trees Campaign. “Eucalyptus trees are not native to the Americas and they inhibit the growth of native vegetation. In Brazil, these plantations are called Green Deserts because nothing can grow in them. Now they want to engineer them, which will make them even more destructive,” she added. Continue reading →
Note: This breaking news from Aotearoa (New Zealand) was received by GJEP from sources around the world. A colleague from Aotearoa writes, “…a bulletin on a break-in at the Scion site where people cut through the outer perimeter fence and dug under the inner security barrier to destroy the young [GM pine] saplings…GE Free NZ stopped short of condemning the action… I expect that the next few weeks will see raids on the homes and offices of known political activists over the Scion action. It will be sold to the public as an attempt to stop political insurrection. Wish us all luck. ”
Anne Petermann, GJEP’s Executive Director and Coordinator of the STOP GE Trees Campaign stated this morning, “With the extreme security measures taken at the site, it is clear that Scion is aware of the powerful public opposition to genetically engineered trees. People understand the inherent ecological, social and health risks associated with genetically engineered trees, and if the government won’t stop them, this action shows that people are prepared take matters into their own hands.”
Scion has been working in partnership with GE tree company ArborGen since 2006. The GE eucalyptus trees being field tested by ArborGen in the US were genetically engineered in New Zealand.
Cross-posted NZ Newswire unless noted. More reports, video and sources at end of article.
For video on the incident, please click here (go to upper left side under headline)
375 genetically modified radiata pine trees at a research site have been destroyed by vandals. Photo / APNZ
A research trial of genetically modified trees destroyed by vandals in Rotorua could have informed the public debate on GM technologies, the Royal society of New Zealand says.
Police are investigating the attack over Easter weekend when 375 radiata pines at Scion’s forestry research institute were either cut or pulled out.
The vandals cut through fencing and tunnelled under another to reach the plants, causing about $400,000 of damage.
Royal Society of New Zealand, which promotes science, president Dr Garth Carnaby says the destruction means evidence that would have informed the public debate about GM technologies has been lost.
“Such vandalism is an expensive squandering of New Zealand’s limited research funding.”
Scion chief executive Dr Warren Parker estimated the vandals had caused about $400,000 of damage and put back research by a year.
“The field trial was approved under one of the strictest regulatory regimes in the world, and our team has fully complied with the containment controls. Despite this, our research opponents were determined to stop us and used criminal means to do so.”
The trials were looking at resistance to herbicides and reproductive development.
Massey University Molecular Genetics Professor Barry Scott said vandalism of this kind was “senseless” and destroyed years of work done by researchers.
“What is particularly abhorrent about this act is the thinking by those involved that their rights and actions should take precedent over the rights of other individuals.”
An anti-GE group is denying involvement in the destruction of genetically engineered pine trees at a research site in Rotorua. (msn nz)
GE-Free New Zealand president Claire Bleakley says she doesn’t know who was behind the attack and doubts it was anyone linked to her organisation.
Police believe the trees were destroyed sometime between Monday and Tuesday morning and want to hear from anyone with information.
Protest in Sacramento, California during a meeting of the WTO’s Agricultural Ministers, hosted by the USDA in June 2003 in preparation for the WTO summit in Cancun that fall. Global Justice Ecology Project co-founder Orin Langelle joined allies at this WTO miniterial to organize protests against the development of dangerous and uncontrollable genetically engineered trees. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
Global Justice Ecology Project coordinates the international STOP GE Trees Campaign. We recently produced a briefing paper on the current status of genetically engineered trees, as well as a history of the campaign to stop GE trees, which we have led since 1999.On March 29th, Global Justice Ecology Project co-organized aconference on Synthetic Biology in Berkeley.
Industry plans to combine the use of GE trees and the use of manufactured and totally synthetic lifeforms to create so-called “advanced cellulosic biofuels.” These synthetic organisms have never existed before and there is no way to know what would happen if they “escaped” into the environment. This is a reckless technology that must be ended.Genetically engineered trees live for decades, can spread their pollen and seeds for up to hundreds of miles, making them much more dangerous than agricultural crops. GE versions of native trees like poplar and pine will inevitably and irreversible contaminate native forests with their pollen and seeds, leading to total disruption of the forest ecosystem. GE eucalyptus trees are non-native, invasive, highly flammable and deplete ground water.
Today the issue of GE trees is more urgent than ever with industry proposals to commercially release millions of GE eucalytpus trees in huge plantations pending with the USDA. If approved, these plantations will exacerbate droughts and cause massive firestorms. They must be banned.
Genetically engineered trees (GE trees) are also known as genetically modified trees (GM trees) or transgenic trees. This refers to trees which have been genetically altered through the insertion of foreign DNA to give the trees unnatural characteristics such as the ability to kill insects, resist toxic herbicides, grow faster or have modified wood composition.
This Nov. 11, 2008 photo released by ArborGen shows a field trial of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in Sebring, Fla. South Carolina-based ArborGen received federal approval to plant 260,000 GE eucalyptus trees in locations around the South for use by International Paper, MeadWestvaco and Rubicon LTD. (AP Photo/ArborGen)
The release of GE trees into the environment is extremely dangerous and the impacts of the escape of these trees into native forest or other ecosystems is unknown, but likely to be extremely destructive. If GE trees are released on a large scale, the escape of pollen or seeds from these trees is both inevitable and irreversible. Contaminated trees would go on to contaminate more trees in an endless cycle. For this reason, we began campaigning to stop GE trees as soon as we learned about them in 1999, when we were still Native Forest Network, launching the official first campaign against GE trees in June of 2000. In April of 2003 we co-founded the STOP GE Trees Campaign.
Below is a brief history of the campaign to stop the release of genetically engineered trees. Thanks to our generous supporters for making our work to protect forests and communities from the dangers of GE trees possible.
GE trees are still one disaster we can stop. To join the campaign against GE trees email firstname.lastname@example.org. To sign the petition calling for a global ban on GE trees, please click here. To read our report on the current status of GE trees, click here.
Coordinator, STOP GE Trees Campaign
Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project
History of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees
June 2000: Campaign against GE trees launched at Biodevastation protest during Biotechnology Industry Organization national conference in Boston. Washington Post runs front page article about the campaign.
May 2001: Chapter on the dangers of GE trees published by GJEP Co-Founder Orin Langelle in the book Redesigning Life.
July 2001: Native Forest Network (NFN) report released From Native Forests to Frankentrees: The Global Threat of Genetically Engineered Trees.
July 2001: NFN organizes protest at GE tree conference at Skamania Lodge in Washington state.
GE trees action at International Paper subsidiary in Sacramento, CA. Photo: Langelle
March 2003: Action for Social and Ecological Justice, Rainforest Action Network and Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering organize GE tree protests at the World Trade Organization agricultural negotiations in Sacramento, CA.
December 2003: UN Climate Convention’s Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP 9) in Milan, Italy decides that GE trees can be used in carbon offset forestry plantations.
December 2004: GJEP and WRM organize side event and press conference on social and ecological dangers of GE trees at the UN Climate Convention COP 10 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mapuche participant presents threats to Indigenous peoples.
MST camp in Espirito Santo, Brazil. Banner reads "eucalyptus plantations are not forests." Photo: Langelle
November 2005: Global Justice Ecology Project, World Rainforest Movement and FASE host joint international strategy meeting on GE trees in Vitoria, Brazil. Participants attend from five continents.
March 2006: STOP GE Trees Campaign and EcoNexus campaign against GE trees at UN Biodiversity Convention COP 8 in Curitiba, Brazil. UN decides to warn countries about GE trees, calls for application of the Precautionary Principle and launches a study into the ecological and social impacts of GE trees.
Boat action in Charleston harbor protests industry conference on GE trees and plantations. Photo: Petermann
October 2006: STOP GE Trees Campaign, Rising Tide and Katuah Earth First! organize protests and a boat action organized around the International Union of Forest Research Organizations “2006 Forest Plantations Meeting” in Charleston, South Carolina, US.
May 2007: STOP GE Trees Campaign launches “National Effort to Stop Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Plantations in US Southeast.”
June 2007: STOP GE Trees Campaign issues press release asking US health and environmental agencies to investigate potential link between pathogenic fungus and genetically engineered eucalyptus trees.
Frankenforests threaten to take over UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference in Bonn, Germany. Photo: Langelle
May 2008: A major series of protests and side events are organized by a large international alliance of groups and Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations at the UN CBD convention in Bonn, Germany calling for a global ban on GE trees. Unanimous support for the ban received from entire African delegation, many Latin American and Asian country delegations, and all NGOs and IPOs present.
June 2009: The STOP GE Trees Campaign and allies submit nearly 17,500 public comments to the USDA opposing the USDA’s recommendation for approval of an ArborGen proposal to plant over a quarter of a million GE eucalyptus trees in test plots across seven states. Only 39 favorable comments were received by the USDA.
Mapuche woman protests outside of the Belgian Mission in Manhattan. Photo: Langelle
October 2009: La Via Campesina, the world’s largest peasant farmer organization, organizes protests outside of the XIII World Forestry Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina. GJEP speaks about GE trees.
February 2010: Groups Force USDA to re-release Draft Environmental Assessment on genetically engineered eucalyptus trees after their original EA lacked key US Forest Service hydrological studies.
May 2010: USDA approves ArborGen request to plant 260,000 genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in test plots across the US South despite overwhelming public opposition.
June 2010: Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch release new report, Wood-based Bioenergy: The Green Lie, at the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany during a European tour on the issues of GE trees and wood-based bioenergy.
July 2010: Global Justice Ecology Project, Dogwood Alliance, Sierra Club, Center for Food Safety, International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Biological Diversity file suit against the USDA over their approval of ArborGen’s large-scale test plots of GE eucalyptus trees.
September 2010: Global Justice Ecology Project, Dogwood Alliance and the STOP GE Trees Campaign release a 5 minute video on the dangers of large-scale tree plantations and genetically engineered trees.
October 2010: ArborGen announces plan for Initial Public Offering (IPO) to raise funds for research.
Protest against the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility at the UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 2007. ArborGen is trying to get their GE trees into forest carbon offset projects. Photo: Langelle
2007-2010: GJEP organizes side events and press conferences with World Rainforest Movement, Global Forest Coalition, Climate Justice Now!, Indigenous Environmental Network and other groups at annual UN Climate Conferences linking GE trees to the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme and denouncing the UN’s definition of forests.
January 2011: ArborGen partner Range Fuels shutters taxpayer-subsidized cellulosic ethanol plant in Georgia, due to their inability to manufacture affordable cellulosic ethanol.
January 2011: ArborGen submits request to USDA for full deregulation and commercial approval of their GE eucalyptus trees.
February 2012: COST Alliance formed in EU to advance GE tree “sustainability criteria” by “…improving the scientific basis for safe tree development…with the intent to supply the world with fuel, fibre and energy.”
March 2012: Action Alert launched to stop the expansion of ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus test plots in the US South.
March 2012: ArborGen Board announces major changes to Senior Management.
The false solutions circus at VT Yankee Protest. Photo: Dylan Kelley
March 2012: Vermont Yankee Protest–Protesters link nuclear power and GE trees as dangerous “false solutions” to climate change.