Tag Archives: USDA

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

Genetically engineered trees for bioenergy pose major threat to southern forests

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project coordinates the STOP Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign.  Join us in telling the USDA to ban genetically engineered trees by signing the petition here.

-The GJEP Team

February 12, 2013. Source: Global Justice Ecology Project

In response to industry plans to develop eucalyptus plantations across the US South[1], environmental groups[2] are raising serious concerns about the impacts of eucalyptus plantations on forests, rural communities, wildlife and the climate, especially if those trees are genetically engineered.

EcoGen, LLC recently announced plans to develop eucalyptus plantations in southern Florida to feed biomass facilities.  Additionally, South Carolina-based ArborGen has requested USDA permission to sell billions of genetically engineered cold tolerant eucalyptus trees for plantations in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.  The USDA is expected to respond to this request in the coming months.

Eucalyptus trees are documented as an invasive pest in California and Florida.  But because they cannot grow in sub-freezing temperatures, they have been engineered to be cold-tolerant, enabling them to survive temperatures down to 20°f – vastly expanding their range.

Besides being highly invasive–the Charlotte Observer called them “the kudzu of the 2010s”–eucalyptus plantations deplete ground water and can even worsen droughts.  The US Forest Service opposes GE eucalyptus plantations due to their impact on ground water and streams. [3,4]

“GE eucalyptus trees are a disaster waiting to happen–it is critical the USDA reject them,” said Global Justice Ecology Project Executive Director Anne Petermann.  “In addition to being invasive, eucalyptus trees are explosively flammable.  In a region that has been plagued by droughts in recent years, developing plantations of an invasive, water-greedy and fire-prone tree is foolhardy and dangerous.”

Petermann coordinates the international STOP GE Trees Campaign [5], which has collected thousands of signatures supporting a ban on GE trees due to their potentially catastrophic impacts on communities and forests.

“The forests of the Southeast are some of the most biodiverse in the world,” said Scot Quaranda, Campaign Director of Asheville, NC-based Dogwood Alliance. “They contain species found nowhere else. Species like the Louisiana Black Bear, the golden-cheeked warbler and the red-cockaded woodpecker are already endangered. Eucalyptus plantations could push these and other species over the edge,” he added.

The Georgia Department of Wildlife opposes GE eucalyptus trees due to these impacts. [6]

The STOP GE Trees Campaign is planning events around the Tree Biotechnology 2013 Conference this May in Asheville, NC, where GE tree industry representatives and researchers will gather to discuss the use of GE trees and their deployment across the US South.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Greenwashing

KPFK Earth Minute on USDA Attempt to Deregulate GMO Plants

To Listen to this week’s Earth Minute on the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Los Angeles, click on:

http://archive.kpfk.org/parchive/mp3/kpfk_110726_070010sojourner.MP3

And forward to minute 26:00

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Earth Minute, Genetic Engineering, Posts from Anne Petermann

Sojourner Truth Show on KPFK Pacifica Radio

Listen to Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the Stop GE Trees Campaign, discuss the BP oil spill, the climate change bill and the USDA approval of GMO tree plantations in the U.S. south.

Please click the link below:

KPFK Show 5:13:10

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, GE Trees

GMO Trees Approved for U.S. South

Media Release                             May 13, 2010

U.S. Department of Agriculture Approves Release of GE Trees

USDA Approves ArborGen’s Request to Plant 260,000 Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Trees Across U.S. South

Yesterday the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service issued its decision to approve the mass-release of over a quarter of a million GE eucalyptus trees across seven states in the U.S. South (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina), despite overwhelming public opposition.

“We are very disappointed but not surprised by the USDA’s decision, which is likely to have severe social and environmental impacts,” stated Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the STOP GE Trees Campaign. “The USDA’s final environmental assessment disregarded concerns raised by thousands of people in comments submitted opposing the release of GE eucalyptus trees.”

The STOP GE Trees Campaign, which includes organizations, foresters and scientists from across the U.S. and around the world is preparing its next steps following the USDA decision.

Simone Lovera, Executive Director of the Global Forest Coalition said from her office in Asuncion, Paraguay, “This is not only bad for the U.S. This decision could open the door globally to these cold-tolerant eucalyptus and other transgenic trees which would have serious impacts on Indigenous and forest dwelling peoples around the world and lead to more biodiversity loss.”

To read the USDA’s final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact, go to: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/biotech_ea_permits.html

For background on the work of the STOP GE Trees Campaign and the threats of GE eucalyptus trees and other GMO trees, go to http://www.nogetrees.org

To sign the petition opposing the mass-planting of GE trees, please go to:

http://www.globaljusticeecology.org/petition.php

Contact:
– Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator, STOP GE Trees Campaign, +1.802.578.0477
– Scot Quaranda, Campaigns Director, Dogwood Alliance, +1.828.251.2525 x 18

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