Protesters denounce GE trees at a meeting of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative in 2011
(image by Anne Petermann/Global Justice Ecology Project)
The Global Justice Ecology Project’s Executive Director Anne Peterman was interviewed by Joan Brunwasser on OpEdNews yesterday on the dangers and drawbacks of the GE American chestnut tree being developed by researchers at SUNY Syracuse.
Is GMO Chestnut Tree Monsanto’s Trojan Horse?
Interview by Joan Brunwasser, OpEdNews. 5 January 2015
JB: You’re up in arms against the humble chestnut tree. You recently wrote This Holiday Season say NO to GMO Chestnuts , a strong OpEd piece against it. I admit that I don’t know much about this subject and many of our readers are probably in the same boat. Would you educate us on the subject, please?
AP: Let me be clear first that my background is in forest protection. I have been working to protect the forests of the Northeast US and the world for the last 25 years. I started working on the threats posed by GE trees in 1999 because I worried about their impact on forests. The further I dug, the more concerned I became. So when we talk about the American chestnut tree, we need to understand that this tree was once a key part of the forest ecosystem in the Eastern US. There is an understandably strong desire to return it to that ecosystem. However, I do not agree with replacing wild American chestnut trees with genetically engineered facsimiles.
The reasons for concern about the GE chestnut are many, but one of the main problems is that the GE chestnut has been engineered with foreign DNA from wheat, a process which damages the genome and leads to numerous mutations. This means the engineered tree will likely have unanticipated and unpredictable consequences when released into a forest ecosystem. As we’ve seen time and again with GMO crops, these unanticipated consequences can be very damaging to biodiversity and wildlife, not to mention people. Just take a look at the iconic Monarch butterfly–it’s population is crashing due to the chemicals applied in abundance to herbicide resistant GMO crops. These herbicides are killing off the main food of the butterflies.
Read the entire interview here
During the holidays, a time of the iconic roasting of chestnuts, scientists and activists are raising alarms about these efforts to genetically engineer and widely release GE American chestnuts into U.S. forests. Syracuse.com recently reported in “Breakthrough at SUNY-ESF” that researchers at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry are growing 10,000 genetically engineered (GE) American chestnut trees to be distributed widely when approved.
The GMO chestnuts produced by these trees would be a new GMO food when concerns about GMOs and labeling are mounting.
Filed under Biiotechnology, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Greenwashing, Uncategorized
Woman holds photo of baby whose condition is blamed on agrotoxins, during rally in Asunción, Paraguay, 3 Dec 2014. PhotoLangelle.org
“All signs show that Paraguay, both its territory and its population, are under attack by conquerors, but conquerors of a new sort. These new ‘conquistadors’ are racing to seize all available arable land and, in the process, are destroying peoples’ cultures and the country’s biodiversity — just as they are in many other parts of the planet, even in those areas that fall within the jurisdiction of ‘democratic’ and ‘developed’ countries. Every single foot of land is in their crosshairs. Powerful elites do not recognize rural populations as having any right to land at all.” – Dr. Miguel Lovera
Photographs by Orin Langelle. Analysis at the end of the essay by Dr. Miguel Lovera from the case study: The Environmental and Social Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock Farming and Soybean Production in Paraguay. Dr. Lovera was the President of SENAVE, the National Plant Protection Agency, during the government of Fernando Lugo.
To view the entire photo essay click here.
Filed under Actions / Protest, Biiotechnology, Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Frontline Communities, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Pesticides
Last August, the New Yorker published an abusive attack on Dr. Vandana Shiva’s anti-GMO activism. One must presume that this widely circulated article “Seeds of Doubt” by Michael Specter was produced on behalf of the vituperative biotech industry. This may be old news to those of you that followed this story and the reaction by Vandana Shiva and those that share her values and vision.
Dr. Shiva penned a response that was not so widely circulated. Today, Independent Science News has re-published that response. We are pleased to share it with you. Help to get this message out there!
Seeds of Truth: Vandana Shiva and the New Yorker
Dr. Vandana Shiva. Independent Science News. 15 December 2014
(A response to the article ‘Seeds of Doubt’ by Michael Specter in The New Yorker)
I am glad that the future of food is being discussed, and thought about, on farms, in homes, on TV, online and in magazines, especially of The New Yorker’s caliber. The New Yorker has held its content and readership in high regard for so long. The challenge of feeding a growing population with the added obstacle of climate change is an important issue. Specter’s piece, however, is poor journalism. I wonder why a journalist who has been Bureau Chief in Moscow for The New York Times and Bureau Chief in New York for the Washington Post, and clearly is an experienced reporter, would submit such a misleading piece. Or why The New Yorker would allow it to be published as honest reporting, with so many fraudulent assertions and deliberate attempts to skew reality.
Read the whole article here
On November 14th, Syracuse.com published a response by Dr. Martha Crouch to a story they ran about SUNY ESF’s work on genetically engineered chestnut trees. Her response led to a very active conversation online. Here we’re publishing the full response, which was slightly cut and edited by Syracuse.com, the online source of the Syracuse Post-Standard.
Imagine this headline: “Bald eagles genetically engineered with pigeon genes to withstand toxic pesticides ready for release back into wild, say researchers.” Or, “Scientists genetically engineer endangered Florida panthers with synthetic DNA to resist deadly virus.”
by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project
In a society rising up against the corporate capture of our food supply in the form of GMOs, a new untested and not-yet-approved GMO food is being promoted: the GMO chestnut.
A recent op-ed in the Washington Post, however, makes the silly assertion that this emerging new GMO food will be the answer to hunger and a step toward reconnecting with our food supply:
Repopulating our woods — and even our yards, our commons and our courthouse lawns — with [GE] American chestnuts would put a versatile, nutritious, easily harvested food source within reach of just about everyone. For those living on the margins, it could be a very real hedge against want. For everyone, it could be a hedge against distancing ourselves from our food, which can be the first step toward a diet low in the whole foods that virtually every public health authority tells us we should eat more of.
Really? A food source for the poor? People are going to be heading out with their burlap sacks collecting GMO chestnuts to roast, grind into flour or boil into candy? This is the answer to hunger? And what is the health impact of eating GMO chestnuts? Is this even being assessed? No.
International scientists working with the Russian National Association for Genetic Safety (NAGS) have announced the launch of the world’s largest and most comprehensive long-term health study.
The study “Factor GMO” was announced in London earlier this week and will focus on USA based seed and chemical company Monsanto’s GMO maize products. The study is a 3 year $25 million project and will begin next year.
Largest international study into safety of GM food launched by Russian NGO
By John Vidal, The Guardian. 11 November 2014
A Russian group working with scientists is set to launch what they call the world’s largest and most comprehensive long-term health study on a GM food.
The $25m three-year experiment will involve scientists testing thousands of rats which will be fed differing diets of a Monsanto GM maize and the world’s most widely-used herbicide which it it is engineered to be grown with.
Read the Guardian article here.