May 5, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) The fight against genetically engineered trees has become a global phenomenon, with resistance in the United States and Brazil growing daily.
On April 9, the Brazilian Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) officially approved a request to plant genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees. The approval marks the first time a commercial entity has been allowed to plant GE trees in Latin America.
The company behind the efforts, FuturaGene, may soon face legal challenges from concerned environmental groups and advocates. Winnie Overbeek, International Coordinator with the World Rainforest Movement, told Common Dreams that the CTNBio has ignored the concerns and protests from the people, including “letters signed by more than 100,000 people.”
Overbeek says the commission is moving forward despite “the urgent need for detailed studies of the various impacts of this dangerous technology, even though this violates the 2008 decision on GE trees made by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD), to which Brazil is a signatory.”
Geneticist Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, co-Director of EcoNexus and member of the Federation of German Scientists said that regulation by nation-states will not be enough because, “the large-scale dispersion of reproductive material means GE trees are likely to cross national borders.”
In early March, around 1,000 women from a variety of social movements protested against FuturaGene in São Paulo, Brazil. The women were joined by activists from around the globe on five continents protesting the release of the GE Eucalyptus.
The resistance to GE trees is also gaining ground in the United States. In January 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it will not regulate the first genetically engineered trees to be planted in the US. The USDA released a response letter to ArborGen, the biotechnology company behind the GE trees, including the loblolly pine. The letter stated that the US government will not stand in the way of planting the untested tree. ArborGen has plans for GE Eucalyptus plantations from South Carolina into Florida and Texas.
Critics worry about the effects of planting forests of GE trees and the risks of cross pollination. Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Center for Food Safety said the USDA is ignoring the public’s concern. In 2013, the USDA was overwhelmed with thousands of public comments speaking against a planned GE Eucalyptus tree forest.
In both Brazil and the United States, indigenous populations’ way of life are threatened. In October 2014, a coalition of indigenous activists gathered in the mountains of North Carolina for an Indigenous Peoples’ action camp against genetically engineered trees. The Indigenous Environmental Network and members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee condemned the planned GE trees and called them colonization of the forests. The groups also said the GE trees threaten the American chestnut tree.
Following the USDA’s decision not to test the GE trees, an alliance of indigenous and environmental groups publicly condemned the agency. The Campaign to STOP GE Trees denounced the US government and the Department of Agriculture for failing to heed the calls of public opposition to the GE loblolly pine.
Indigenous communities fear forest colonization while their counterparts in Brazil say the planned GE eucalyptus trees will threaten their livelihood by contaminating honey GE eucalyptus pollen. The families make a living by harvesting honey and selling it internationally.
Once again, we find a small portion of the human population (in the guise of government and corporations) threatening nature. What will you do to protect this planet? How long can mankind continue with such disregard for the planet?
Before the governments of the world plant genetically engineered forests, we should have more studies to fully understand the implications of planting trees in a completely new and foreign environment.
One thing is for sure – Nature will continue on and so will the Earth. Whether or not humanity gets to take part in the journey is up to YOU. And ME.
Stand your ground for Mother Earth. #ResistanceIsFertile
For more information look into the Campaign to Stop GE Trees
Also, check out the documentary Synthetic Forests and The Dangers of GE Trees
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