Note: Global Justice Ecology Project coordinates the International Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered (GE) Trees. To support GJEP’s ongoing efforts to build resistance to the GE tree industry in the southeastern US, check out this short campaign video: http://bit.ly/stop-ge-trees
-The GJEP Team
By Maureen Nandini Mitra, September 3, 2013. Source: Earth Island Journal
Image: Lilli Keinaenen
In late May, forest biologists, geneticists, and forestry industry officials from across the world gathered at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina to discuss ongoing research in tree genetics. One of the key sessions at the weeklong “Tree Biotechnology 2013 Conference” dealt with the “different aspects of the use of transgenics, including gains in productivity, gene flow, and societal acceptance.” The last point, it turned out, would be the attendees’ biggest hurdle.
As convention participants sat in the four-star hotel’s conference rooms discussing how genetically engineered (GE) trees could meet the growing demand for “sustainable, renewable sources of biomass, in the face of climate change,” several hundred demonstrators gathered on the streets outside in one of the largest protests ever organized against genetically engineered trees. Anne Petermann, coordinator of the “Campaign to STOP GE Trees,” says their message to the tree biotech industry and its investors was simple: Expect resistance.
The protestors had converged in Asheville for their own weeklong “counter-conference.” Their key intention was to highlight concerns over the United States government’s pending approval of a genetically modified eucalyptus tree. The proposal, by the South Carolina-based company ArborGen, is currently being considered by the US Department of Agriculture. If approved, it would be the first time a transgenic tree is authorized for commercial production in the country.
Note: Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and coordinator of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, will be a featured speaker at the May 25 “March Against Monsanto” event in Asheville, North Carolina.
Activists from across the region are descending on Asheville to confront a major Tree Biotechnology conference held from May 26-June 1. Especially targeted will be South Carolina-based ArborGen — originally formed as a partnership with Monsanto — which has a pending request to plant billions of Genetically Engineered eucalyptus trees in monoculture tree plantations across the US South.
Learn more at http://www.treebiotech2013.org
-The GJEP Team
Source: OpEd News
March Against Monsanto has announced that on May 25, tens of thousands of activists around the world will ” March Against Monsanto .” Currently, marches are being planned on six continents, in 36 countries, totaling events in over 250 cities, and in the US, events are slated to occur simultaneously at 11 a.m. Pacific in 47 states.
Tami Monroe Canal, lead organizer and creator of the now-viral Facebook page, says she was inspired to start the movement to protect her two daughters. “I feel Monsanto threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity. I couldn’t sit by idly, waiting for someone else to do something.” [The full March Against Monsanto mission statement can be read here.]
An organizer for the march in Athens, Greece, Roberta Gogos, spoke about the importance of the events in austerity-impacted South Europe. “Monsanto is working very hard to overturn EU regulation on obligatory labeling (questionable whether it’s really enforced in any case), and no doubt they will have their way in the end. Greece is in a precarious position right now, and Greece’s farmers falling prey to the petrochemical giant is a very real possibility.” Continue reading
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
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.