05/07/2007

Call For Ban on GM Trees

 

Call For Ban on GM Trees

New Zealand's experiments with GE trees are under international scrutiny as
a threat to our trading-reputation as well as the environment.

Over 50 Indigenous Peoples Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations
involved in meetings surrounding the Convention on Biological Diversity in
Paris, have called for a ban on Genetically Modified trees and warn the
current biofuels boom and the rush for so-called second generation biofuels will lead to dangerous experiments with these trees.

In an open letter to delegates at the conference, the groups called for
compliance by all countries with the precautionary approach in regard to GM
trees, as agreed upon at the CBD's 8th Conference of the Parties last year
in Curitiba, Brazil.

New Zealand has already been widely criticised for supporting 'Terminator'
technology which has been approved as part of the GE tree experiments here.
"It is vital to New Zealand's Brand image that we are not contaminated by GE
trees and instead invest in sustainable forestry projects that can meet
ethical and environmental standards," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"We need to meet standards like those set by the Forest Stewardship Council,
as away of ensuring New Zealand's forestry industry benefits from a move to
sustainability," he says.

World Rainforest Movement's Ana Filippini said, "Countries are dangerously
ignoring the precautionary approach as research in GM trees is currently
being carried out in at least the following countries: Australia, Brazil,
Canada, Chile, China, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom & US ."

"Last week in the U.S., APHIS (the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service),
a subsidiary body of the US Department of Agriculture, approved a request
by GM tree corporation ArborGen to allow their field trial of genetically
modified eucalyptus trees in Alabama to flower and produce seeds," said Anne
Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project. Trees are being engineered with unnatural traits such as the ability to kill insects, or have reduced lignin. Ironically, though GE trees threaten to worsen global warming by damaging the ability of natural forests
to store carbon, companies propose to develop GE tree plantations as a source for biofuels.

ENDS
Contact: Jon Carapiet 0210507681
References
4 July 2007 Large Alliance of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples Calls for Ban
on Genetically Modified Trees for Biofuels contact: Anne Petermann,
Global Justice Ecology Project +33 (0) 66.929.4560
Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition +31
(0)62.245.7495 Ana Filippini, World Rainforest
Movement

Paris, France--Over 50 Indigenous Peoples
Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations involved in meetings
surrounding the Convention on Biological Diversity, presented an open
letter today recommending a ban on Genetically Modified trees on the basis
of their potential impacts on forest biological diversity.

They expressed their concern that the current biofuels boom and the rush for
so-called second generation biofuels will lead to dangerous experiments with
these trees.The document was presented to delegates attending the Subsidiary
Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). SBSTTA is a
subsidiary body of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on
Biological Diversity, and advises the CBD on scientific and technical
issues.

The letter, which was circulated by World Rainforest Movement,
Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition, insisted
oncompliance by all countries with the precautionary approach in regard to
GM trees, as agreed upon at the CBD's 8th Conference of the Parties last year in Curitiba, Brazil. Trees are being engineered with unnatural traits such as the ability to kill insects, or have reduced lignin. Lignin is the substance in a tree that makes it strong
and protects it from disease, fungus,wind and other environmental stresses. The escape of these traits into forests via seed or pollen threatens to contaminate forests with these traits, which could disrupt forest ecosystems, damage biodiversity and wildlife, as well as potentially harming the health of nearby communities.

Trees can spread seeds and pollen for hundreds of kilometers. Ironically,
though GE trees threaten to worsen global warming by damaging the ability of
natural forests to store carbon, companies propose to develop GE tree
plantations as a source for biofuels.

World Rainforest Movement's Ana Filippini said, "Countries are dangerously ignoring the precautionary approach as research in GM trees is currently being carried out in at
least the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States." "Last week in the U.S., APHIS (the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service), a subsidiary body of the US Department of Agriculture, approved a request by GM tree corporation ArborGen to allow their field trial of genetically modified eucalyptus
trees in Alabama to flower and produce seeds," Anne Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project stated."Similar permission is being sought for GM tree test plots in Brazil," she added.

"With the current rush for agrofuels, companies and governments are looking to GM trees as potential source for future supplies of cellulosic ethanol", concluded Simone Lovera of Global Forest Coalition. "This will have a devastating impact on forests and forest-dependent peoples all over the world." According to the Biotechnology and GMOs information Website http://gmoinfo.jrc.it/gmp_report.aspx?CurNot=B/FR/07/06/01, this month in France, the same country this SBSTTA is being held, the company INRA, will begin a study of transgenic poplar trees for bioethanol production. The five year GM tree experiment will be located at the nursery of the Breeding Experimental Unit on the ground of the INRA-Orleans Centre located in Saint Cyr en Val, in France.

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