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Breaking News: GMO Tree Field Trial Destroyed in New Zealand

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.

For more on the dangers of genetically engineered trees and to read our new report on GE trees, go to: Analysis of the State of GE Trees and Advanced Bioenergy

–The GJEP Team

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.

miffyrotorua

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering