STOP GE Trees
STOP GE Trees Campaign
a project of
Global Justice Ecology Project
PO Box 412
Hinesburg, VT 05461
April 14, 2005
Dear Friend of Social Justice and Environmental Protection,
Long-time forest protection activist Tim Hermach calls it "a greater threat to the world's forests than the chainsaw, the feller buncher and the bulldozer combined."
Dr. David Suzuki, geneticist and host of "The Nature of Things" says this threat "has the potential to wreak ecological havoc throughout the world's native forests." To read Dr. Suzuki's letter of support for the campaign, go to the bottom of this letter.
What is this threat? It is the genetic engineering of trees.
There is still time to stop GE trees, but we need your support to succeed.
Please join the STOP GE Trees Campaign, an alliance of 13 national, regional and local organizations from the US and Canada that have united to stop the genetic engineering of trees. Simply click on http://globaljusticeecology.org/index.php?name=member to donate securely through Paypal or send a contribution by mail.
The year 2005 is critical. GE Tree promoters are going on the offensive to push this dangerous and unproven technology into commercial plantations as soon as 2006. We must stop it this year.
Genetically engineered trees grow for decades if not centuries, can pollinate for hundreds of miles and have wild relatives throughout our native forests.
GE Trees are a disaster waiting to happen.
Trees are being engineered to kill insects. They will contain the bacterial toxin Bt. Bt indiscriminately kills both beneficial and pest insects, and harms wildlife that feed on those insects. The pest insects become rapidly immune to the toxin, leading to applications of increasingly toxic chemical pesticides to control these "super-bugs." Bt is also exuded through the roots of trees, causing disruptions to soil ecology.
Herbicide resistant GE trees can be heavily treated with the chemical herbicide RoundUp and remain unharmed. This will result in large increases in the application of this toxic chemical, contaminating water and soils and impacting local communities.
Trees are also being engineered for reduced lignin. Lignin is the fiber that gives trees rigidity and must be removed to make paper. It gives trees protection against insects, disease and animal browsing, as well as environmental stresses like wind. Removing it makes trees much more susceptible to these threats. In addition, reduced lignin trees rot faster releasing CO2 into the atmosphere more rapidly (very ironic because industry wants to "sell" GE trees to the public by saying they will be used to help stop global warming by soaking up CO2 emissions).
Industry claims that genetically engineered trees will be sterile. However, researchers have admitted that they cannot provide a 100% guarantee that all of the trees will be sterile. Tree pollen can travel up to 1,000 miles, which means it would not take long for GE trees to contaminate vast expanses of native wild forest with the traits above.
Escape of the insect-resistance gene would cause total disruption of the forest ecosystem- insects form the base of the forest food chain. Escape of the low lignin gene would leave trees vulnerable to insects, disease and wind. Contamination by the sterility gene would mean trees would produce no seeds, nuts, fruit, or pollen--no food for wildlife.
Once contamination begins, it cannot be stopped. GE tree plantations contaminate native forests, which themselves become contaminants in a never-ending cycle. This must be stopped before it starts.
GE tree contamination could also be very harmful to private land owners and to public lands. Current legal precedents indicate that trees contaminated with GE pollen would legally become the property of the corporation holding the GE patent. Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser lost his farming livelihood and incurred $160,000 in legal fees as a result of a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Monsanto--all because Percy's canola fields were contaminated by a neighboring farmer's GE canola.
In the case of public lands, this could mean contaminated trees in a designated Wilderness Area becoming the legal property of a corporation. In this lose-lose scenario, either the corporation would be allowed to go in and log the contaminated trees, or they would remain there and continue to contaminate more native forests. The only solution is not to allow GE trees into the environment in the first place. Please Help us stop GE trees. Just click on http://globaljusticeecology.org/index.php?name=member to donate securely through Paypal.
In addition to their ravaging ecological impacts, GE Tree plantations will be devastating for rural and indigenous communities in the regions being targeted for GE tree plantations--in the Global South, as well as the Southeast U.S.
Many rural and indigenous communities communities rely on intact native forests for their livelihood, water, medicines, food and fuel. In areas where native forests have been removed and industrial tree plantations developed, communities' water tables have dropped dramatically, impacting crops, livestock and native forests. Loss of wildlife has left communities without access to game for subsistence hunting. Toxic herbicides and pesticides contaminate water supplies. Including GE trees in these plantations will magnify these problems. Plus, GE trees grow faster, so they more rapidly deplete ground water and soils, accelerating desertification of the land.
In addition, physicians working with Filipino agricultural workers have found indications that inhalation of Bt pollen causes allergic and immune system reactions. The long-term impacts are unstudied. Widespread dispersal of Bt pollen from GE trees could lead to serious health impacts, particularly on nearby communities.
GE trees must not be released into the environment. Join the growing movement to end this menace.
To Join, click on http://globaljusticeecology.org/index.php?name=member to donate securely through Paypal or send a contribution through the mail.
Your support will help advance the campaign against GE trees. It will be used for the following activities:
GE Trees Documentary: Global Justice Ecology Project is collaborating with filmmakers on a documentary entitled A SILENT FOREST: The Growing Threat of Genetically Engineered Trees, narrated by Dr. David Suzuki. The film details impacts of GE trees on forests and wildlife as well as rural and indigenous communities.
English and Spanish versions of the documentary and an accompanying report will be distributed along with Action Tool Kits that give recipients organizing tools including posters, sample press releases, letters to the editor, citizen action guides, petitions and how-to instructions to organize a showing.
Media Campaign: We have initiated an aggressive media campaign to reach people throughout the US, Latin America and around the world with the extreme dangers of commercializing GE trees.
University Campaign: We will be traveling to various campuses to hold presentations and trainings with the goal of organizing campus chapters of the Stop GE Trees Campaign.
Strategy Sessions: Global Justice Ecology Project will be organizing national and international strategy meetings involving national, regional and grassroots groups from around the world to advance regional and global campaigns against genetically engineered trees.
GE Fruit Tree Campaign: This program will enable us to connect the movement against GE trees with the movement against GE foods and will include outreach to non-GE fruit growers.
Markets Campaigns: Active markets campaigns are being coordinated by national coalitions against numerous corporations that make, sell or buy timber or paper products. These campaigns include demands to reject GE trees.
Focus on the Southeast: GE trees research and development in the US is predominant in the Southeast, which has the majority of test plots and industrial tree plantations. The STOP GE Trees Campaign has a special emphasis on this critical region.
Join the campaign to STOP GE Trees! This campaign relies heavily on the support of individuals like you.
To Join, click on http://globaljusticeecology.org/index.php?name=member and donate securely through Paypal, or to send a contribution through the mail.
Thank you for supporting this important campaign.
Anne E. Petermann
STOP GE Trees Campaign Steering Committee Coordinator
Global Justice Ecology Project Co-Director