GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 3rd  June 2005

Groups Call for UN CBD Moratorium on GE Trees

Participants at Montreal Meetings of Cartageña Protocol on Biosafety Call
for CBD Moratorium on Genetically Engineered Trees

Montreal, QC, Canada—Today at a press conference on genetically engineered
trees held during the Second meeting of the Parties to the Cartageña
Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 2), participants called for the UN
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to enact a moratorium on the
release of genetically engineered trees into the environment, including
the removal of any outdoor test plots currently in existence.

“When speaking about biosafety, we must look at the issue of genetically
engineered trees and potential contamination of native forests,” stated
Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, Director of EcoNexus, participating in the
COP-MOP 2 as a representative of the German Federation of Scientists. She
continued, “If you wanted to design a means to scatter a gene far and wide
throughout the environment, the best way to do it would be to put it in
trees, which have lots of wild relatives and pollen that travels for
hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers. Increasingly scientists agree
that risk assessment should not focus on the likelihood of a GE tree gene
escaping, but on the impact it will have when it escapes.”

“We must have a moratorium on the release of GE trees into the
environment,” stated Hannu Hyvönen, of the Peoples Forest Forum. “The
dangers of GE trees contaminating native forests with traits like insect
resistance or reduced lignin are certain to cause terrible problems in our
native forests,” he added.

Countries including China, Chile, Brazil and the U.S. are rapidly
advancing the commercialization of genetically engineered tree technology
despite the inherent uncertainties and high risks. China has already
planted more than one million trees throughout ten provinces. Brazil and
Chile both would like to have commercial plantations by 2006. The recent
mapping of the DNA of the poplar tree in the U.S. is helping more rapidly
advance some aspects of commercialization.

“Industry would have us believe that GE trees are the answer to all of our
problems, but the fact is, the commercial application of GE trees will
cause an intensification of the problems we are already seeing from
industrial tree plantations,” stated Anne Petermann, co-Director of Global
Justice Ecology Project. She went on to say, “Global warming will be
exacerbated, indigenous and rural communities poisoned or forced off their
lands, and native forest ecosystems irrevocably damaged. All so the
timber industry can claim higher profit margins. A moratorium is a good
first step. Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign,
however, believe that GE trees must be banned globally.”

This is a joint press release from Global Justice Ecology Project, Peoples
Forest Forum, EcoNexus and the STOP GE Trees Campaign, which represents
many hundred organizations.

CONTACT: Anne Petermann, GJEP, +1.802.578.0477


Orin Langelle
Global Justice Ecology Project
POB 412
Hinesburg, VT 05461 U.S.
Office: +1.802.482.2689 (phone/fax)
Mobile: +1.802.578.6980


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