Tag Archives: protest
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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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.
April 2004: STOP Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign founded. Founding members include Global Justice Ecology Project, Sierra Club, Southern Forests Network, Dogwood Alliance, Forest Ethics, Forest Guild, GE Free Maine (now Food for Maine’s Future), Institute for Social Ecology, Klamath-Siskyou Wildlands Center, Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Rainforest Action Network.
April 2004: GJEP presents dangers of GE trees to delegates at the UN Forum on Forests in Geneva, Switzerland.
September 2004: GJEP launches collaborative partnership with Indigenous Mapuche group Konapewman against GE trees and plantations in Chile.
October 2004: GJEP presents social and ecological dangers of GE trees during founding meeting of the Durban Group for Climate Justice in Durban, South Africa.
December 2004: World Rainforest Movement (WRM) report released, Genetically Engineered Trees, the Ultimate Threat to Forests.
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.
September 2005: Award-winning GE trees documentary released: A Silent Forest: The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees, narrated by renowned geneticist Dr. David Suzuki.
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.
July 2006: UN Food and Agriculture Organization releases a report titled, Preliminary Review of Biotechnology in Forestry, Including Genetic Modification. In it, a survey of GE tree researchers reveals that their topmost concern about GE trees is the “unintentional contamination of non-target species.” Their second greatest concern is public opinion of GE trees.
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.
November 2007: Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition publish the report, The True Cost of Agrofuels: Impacts on Food, Forests, People and the Climate.
February 2008: GJEP, EcoNexus, GFC and WRM organize GE trees protest inside a UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Rome.
April 2008: Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition and the STOP GE Trees Campaign release the report, GE Trees, Cellulosic Biofuels and Destruction of Forest Biological Diversity.
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.
November 2008: World Rainforest Movement releases GE Tree Research: A Country by Country Overview.
May 2009: Belgium Permanent Mission in Manhattan protested by Indigenous Peoples during the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues due to Belgium’s development of test plots of GE poplar trees.
May-June 2009: Living On Earth, an NPR program, interviews GJEP on the impacts of GE trees.
June 2009: Tree Engineer Steve Strauss, of Oregon State University, writes article “Strangled at Birth? Forest Biotech and the Convention on Biological Diversity” in Nature Biotechnology magazine which criticizes international regulatory hurdles created by GJEP’s efforts to ban GE trees internationally.
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.
August 2009: Jim Hightower national commentary airs: “The Invasion of Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus.”
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.
August 2010: Charlotte Observer editorial, “Could eucalyptus trees be the kudzu of the 2010s?” [Note: the Charlotte Observer is the largest newspaper near ArborGen’s headquarters.]
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.
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.
January 2011: Des Moines Register article, “Court challenges stall new biofuel crops.”
April 2011: Biomass Power & Thermal Magazine article, “Genetic Engineering Hang-Up: Lawsuit highlights a barrier to biotechnology advancements in the US”
May 2011: ArborGen postpones IPO indefinitely.
June 2011: STOP GE Trees Campaign Action Alert against ArborGen coincides with Tree Biotechnology 2011 conference in Brazil.
September 2011: Protest organized to counter the push for GE tree sustainability criteria at the 2011 conference of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative in Burlington, Vermont.
October 2011: USDA grants $136 million for research into GE trees and other wood for bioenergy.
October 2011: Judge in GE trees test plot lawsuit rules in favor of USDA.
October 2011: Commercial Appeal article, “Court loss won’t stop environmentalists’ battle against modified-eucalyptus trees” [note: the Commercial Appeal is the largest newspaper in Memphis–home to ArborGen co-owner International Paper].
November 2011: article, “GE Trees in Sweden Cause Concern.”
January 2012: New video A Darker Shade of Green Documents Critical Perspectives on REDD reveals global resistance to forest-carbon projects as well as GE 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.
March 2012: Vermont Yankee Protest–Protesters link nuclear power and GE trees as dangerous “false solutions” to climate change.
For a complete listing of news around genetically engineered trees, go to: http://nogetrees.org
Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.
Go to the link below and scroll to minute 30:04 to listen to this week’s Earth Minute:
Text from this week’s Earth Minute:
On March 10th, Members of the Stop Suncor and Tar Sands Coalition, including the American Indian Movement and other groups, occupied the site of a Suncor Energy oil spill on the shore of Colorado’s Sand Creek.
Suncor Energy boasts of being the first corporation to begin extracting the tar sands in Athabasca, leading to the deforestation of thousands of square miles of Boreal forest and the destruction of First Nations cultures. Suncor produces more than 90,000 barrels of oil per day at its refinery in Commerce City, Colorado.
Tessa McLean of the American Indian Movement said, “the oil that’s being spilled here came from Athabasca, a First Nations community. My people up are suffering there because of the oil we’re refining here.”
Deanna Meyer of Deep Green Resistance Colorado added, “Suncor has so poisoned this land that oil is bubbling up through numerous burst sub-surface pipelines. Benzene levels in this water—that fish, ducks, geese, beavers and other beings depend on—are 100 times the safety limit.”
While the spill was first reported last November 27th, it is believed to have begun in February 2011.
Admit clown involved in incident
Official UN response below
Note: The controversy regarding the incident of an unidentified UN security officer assaulting accredited photographer Orin Langelle with his own camera continues. As you will see in the official response from UN Media Relations Officer John Hay below, the UN is engaging in the same sort of coverup we have seen from the city of Oakland and elsewhere, where security forces have reacted violently to nonviolent protesters or journalists.
It reflects what we at GJEP have asserted in the past and continue to. The UN is controlled by the corporate elite–the 1%–and do not want unruly protesters or independent journalists interfering in their attempt to snow the global public into thinking they are addressing the climate crisis. They are not. The are laying the groundwork for enhanced corporate profit at the expense of the rest of the planet.
This particular battle with the UN is not over. We refuse to allow the UN’s repression of journalists to go unchallenged–especially when the UN insists that they “are keen to facilitate media reporting …[and]… to treat all participants with respect.”
Walking up to a photographer, grabbing his camera and shoving it into his face is an odd way to demonstrate “respect.”
-Anne Petermann for the GJEP Team
For a description of the incident and the UN’s “facilitation of media reporting,” go to: Addendum: Formal Complaint Filed Against UN Security Actions in Durban
Official Response from the UN Climate Change Secretariat
Date: 2 February, 2012
Dear Mr. Langelle,
Apologies for the late reply. We take any allegations of undue use of force on the part of UN security staff seriously. After undertaking a thorough investigation, we are unable to confirm that there was at any time undue use of force by UN security personnel directed against members of the media in Durban.
We have been made aware of an incident involving a participant dressed up as a clown; an incident which you have also mentioned. Our investigations indicate that it was necessary to clear a passage within the conference center that was being obstructed, in the interest of the safety of all participants and in the interest of the smooth operation of the conference. At no time was undue force applied in the exercise.
It is not the policy of the UN Climate Change Secretariat to obstruct the reporting of journalists in any way. On the contrary, the secretariat is keen to facilitate media reporting in the designated public spaces, as long as safety concerns are respected. And it is the policy UN security to treat all participants with respect and not to apply undue force in the dischare of their functions.
We continue to take any such allegations seriously, and thank you for your letter.
Media Relations Officer
Recently, on this blog we have run several articles concerning repression against journalists in their attempt to document efforts by the 1% to keep the truth from the eyes of the people. Both Orin Langelle and Jeff Conant from GJEP carry official press accreditation and we feel that is important to inform people about some of the dangers involved in reporting incidents the authorities want kept quiet.
Langelle recalls that on his first assignment as a photojournalist during the 1972 protests during the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, he was billy-clubbed by the police. More recently he was assaulted by an unidentified uniformed UN security guard during the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa last month. The security guard slammed Langelle’s camera into his face because he took a photo of that guard ejecting an accredited participant of the conference from the UN compound as he was being interviewed by the media immediately following a Global Justice Ecology Project press conference.
As the situation on this planet worsens ecologically and economically, the dangers of documenting the plundering of the Earth and the repression of people who try to stop it will increase.
History of the January Photo of the Month: The actions in Windsor in 2000 were the first major protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Others followed in Quebec City in 2001 and finally in Miami, Florida in 2003 where the FTAA ran aground. The following article was written immediately after the Windsor actions:
Windsor, Ontario anti-Free Trade Area of the Americas
and Organization of American States Actions, June 4-6, 2000
by Orin Langelle
Windsor, Ontario–The shutdown of the OAS/FTAA meetings in Windsor were successful as business was unable to proceed as usual. The FTAA is the southward expansion of NAFTA and intends to bind all countries in the Americas (except Cuba) to another trade agreement. Although the meetings took place, it was only with armed protection. The Windsor Star reported prior to the actions, “…the protesters have already won. Without throwing a single rock or unfurling one banner, they’ve turned the OAS delegates and their entourages into diplomatic birds in a gilded cage.”
There were around 70 arrests in three days of action.
Delegates met behind 15 foot fences and concrete barricades as a ten square block perimeter was enforced by the Windsor police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP in full riot gear. The Detroit River was patrolled by police boats. Across the river, Detroit was also militarized.
On Sunday between 3-5,000 protesters led by labor rallied and marched. The first pepper spray incident occurred during the labor rally when demonstrators attempted to unfurl an anti-FTAA banner over the OAS cage. Pepper spray continued throughout the afternoon as other protesters blocked a bus with delegates bound for the meetings.
Monday found high school students walking out of their classes in protest of the meetings.
More high school students did the same on Tuesday, when the OAS delegates met regarding next year’s Summit of the Americas where the FTAA will be the key topic.
Although the OAS said that the Windsor meeting had nothing to do with trade, Canadian Prime Minister Chrétien welcomed the delegates by endorsing the FTAA.
KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles Interview with GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann on the Durban Disaster
Global Justice Ecology Project Executive Director Anne Petermann was interviewed on the Sojourner Truth show with Margaret Prescod on KPFK on Thursday, January 5 about the outcomes from the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa and the civil society protests there.
To listen, click on the link below and scroll to minute 37:56:
Global Justice Ecology Project partners with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute every Tuesday and weekly interviews with activists on key environmental and ecological justice issues every Thursday. In addition, during major events such as the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa, we organize daily interviews Tuesday through Friday.
Burlington, VT–Global Justice Ecology Project’s Anne Petermann, Orin Langelle and Jeff Conant along with Keith Brunner and Lindsey Gillies will give a report back from last month’s controversial UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa on Wednesday, January 11, at the Fletcher Free Library Community Room in Burlington, Vermont from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. All five presenters were in Durban for the climate negotiations.
Fletcher Free Library is located at 235 College Street in Burlington, VT. Burlington Action Against Nukes and the Environmental Action Group of Occupy Burlington are sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public.
“The Durban disaster marks the lost decade in the fight against climate change,” said Anne Petermann, Executive Director of GJEP, whose international office is in Hinesburg, VT. “These talks accomplished nothing except to delay any implementation of a UN plan to stop climate change until 2020,” she stated.
Both Petermann and Brunner were carried out of the talks by UN security, ejected from the UN grounds and turned over to the South African police for staging an unpermitted sit-in protest of the corporate take-over of the negotiations.  Gillies was also ejected.
Earlier that week, photojournalist Orin Langelle, on assignment for Z Magazine, had his camera shoved into his face by a UN security officer because Langelle was taking a photograph of the officer ejecting a person who was giving an interview to the media following a UN-approved Global Justice Ecology Project press conference. This incident led Langelle to file a formal complaint against UN security.  Langelle will show his documentary photographs of the “Durban Disaster” at the upcoming event.
Jeff Conant, Global Justice Ecology Project’s Communications Director who was also present in Durban, will take part via live-stream from the GJEP Oakland, CA office to discuss the perspectives of other climate justice groups on the Durban negotiations.
The entire two weeks in Durban were marred with controversy, which included the corporate takeover of the UN climate talks, heavy handed security measures to prevent civil society participation in the talks, and the attempt by “Big Green” Non Governmental Organizations (i.e. Greenpeace and 350.org) to control a major “Occupy” protest there. This attempted control of dissent prompted Petermann to write a controversial critique of the big NGOs, titled “Showdown at the Durban Disaster: Challenging the Big Green Patriarchy.” 
 Global Justice Ecology Project Director Anne Petermann Ejected from COP17 http://wp.me/pDT6U-3hX
 Formal Complaint Filed Against UN Security Actions in Durban http://wp.me/pDT6U-3jy
 Showdown at the Durban Disaster: Challenging the ‘Big Green’ Patriarchy http://wp.me/pDT6U-3iE
One of the millions of people who globally make a living from waste picking during a demonstration in Durban, South Africa
On 5 December 2011, during the UN climate conference in Durban South Africa, the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers held a “permitted” protest inside the UN compound. The protest was almost stopped by UN security, who told organizers they needed to have their signs and banners approved by the UN before they could be displayed. The waste pickers held their protest anyway, which included emptying trash from the UN conference center on the ground then demonstrating how they sort and recycle it.
Millions of people worldwide make a living from waste picking. They collect, sort and process recyclables, reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfills and saving valuable natural resources. Today, an increasing number of waste pickers are processing organic waste, diverting it from landfills and reducing methane gas pollution. Waste pickers could further reduce greenhouse gas emissions given proper support.
About the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers:
The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers brings together waste picker organizations from Africa, Asia and Latin America. To learn more about waste pickers’ experiences and to support fair and just solutions to climate change, visit their blog http://www.globalrec.org/
Also please visit GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives) http://www.no-burn.org/
Orin Langelle is currently working on a book of four decades of his concerned photography. From mid-June to mid-July Langelle worked on the book as an artist in residence at the Blue Mountain Center in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.
Global Justice Ecology Project explores and exposes the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination with the aim of building bridges between social justice, environmental justice and ecological justice groups to strengthen their collective efforts. Within this framework, our programs focus on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, protection of native forests and climate justice. We use the issue of climate change to demonstrate these interconnections. Global Justice Ecology Project is the North American Focal Point of the Global Forest Coalition.