31/01/2015

Forests At Risk from Secret Trade Deal and GE Trees Partnerships

 

Outrage in the US at the secret approval of genetically engineered (GE) trees could see New Zealand companies implicated in an industry-wide effort to keep the public in the dark. [1]

The New Zealand Forest Research Institute, now operating as Scion, has been engineering trees for 12 years. The first GE Tree trials approved two experiments on Pinus Radiata and Norway spruce. The Norway spruce trial trees suffered from stunting and disease, which seriously compromised their growth, causing an early closure to the trial. The trials of Radiata pine resulted in breaches at the facility due to poor maintenance. [2]

ArborGen is a private company, 31.67% owned by Rubicon New Zealand [3] and has engineered numerous GE saplings in containment for export. They have largely avoided scrutiny because it is not a Crown Research Institute (CRI) and therefore not subject to the Official Information Act. Rubicon have been involved in genetically engineering GE eucalyptus trees for ArborGen in the US and South American markets. In a secret deal just released, the same company has been granted approval to plant the Loblolly GE pine in the US, without public consultation.

There are now fears that regulation could be undermined in New Zealand through clauses in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

"The US EPA has given permission for ArborGen to plant these trees 'under the radar'," said Jon Carapiet, national spokesman for GE-Free NZ.

"There is a fear that investor protections in the TPP could see ArborGen demand the right to do something similar here or to demand compensation if they are prevented."

The push by commercial interests for 'harmonization' of laws across trading countries looks set to undermine good governance and deny communities sovereignty over their whenua or land.

After 19 years of commercialisation and there is still no scientific consensus on the safety of GE products. Independent scientists warn that GE trees threaten to destabalise the environment by impacting soil bacteria, fungi, birds and insects that are part of complex ecosystems, until long term scientific studies on their effects have been conducted this warning must be taken seriously.

References:

[1] http://globaljusticeecology.org/outrage-us-secret-approval-genetically-engineered-trees/

[2] Scion Tree Breaches http://www.gefree.org.nz/ge-breaches/

[2] http://www.rubicon.co.nz/web/main.cfm?menu=left&ItemId=223

ENDS:

Jon Carapiet 0210507681

Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 348 6731



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