GE trees sway
For Immediate Release 1 April 2006
UN Convention Acknowledges Threats Posed by GE Trees
This decision states in part: "The Conference of the Parties, recognizing the uncertainties related to the potential environmental and socio-economic impacts, including long-term and trans-boundary impacts, of genetically modified trees on global forest biological diversity, as well as on the livelihoods of indigenous and local communities, and given the absence of reliable data and of capacity in some countries to undertake risk assessments and to evaluate those potential impactsŠ recommends parties to take a precautionary approach when addressing the issue of genetically modified trees." [complete wording attached following release]
This is an important step forward for the global campaign to stop GE trees. The vested interests behind GE trees are extremely powerful and have been very active at COP-8 working to ensure that the future release of GE trees into the environment is unimpeded. They are rushing forward even though the impacts of GE tree release would be felt at global level and would be irreversible. The decision of the Convention on Biological Diversity helps put the brakes on the rapid motion to commercialize genetically engineered trees.
Geneticist Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher of the Federation of German Scientists commented, "This outcome represents a first step in recognizing the risks associated with GE trees." She continued, "The potential impacts of GE trees on forests and indigenous and local communities globally are serious and given that we have insufficient scientific data, it is crucial to halt all releases at least until such data and assessments become available." Adding, "This CBD outcome, recommending a precautionary approach to GE trees, will assist NGOs and scientists alike in sending an urgent alert to all nations to this effect."
"The fact that we were able to accomplish this much, given that the CBD is under so much pressure from corporations speaks volumes about how critical it is to keep GE trees from being commercially released," stated Helena Paul of EcoNexus. "We are now in a favorable position to work internationally through the CBD process and hopefully restrain those who seek, for reasons of profit, to release GM trees as quickly as possible," she continued.
"GE trees are one of the most dangerous threats to forests, which host most of the Earth's terrestrial biodiversity," stated Ricardo Carrere, of World Rainforest Movement. "The release of GE trees will inevitably and irreversibly contaminate forest ecosystems and destroy biodiversity" he concluded.
A declaration issued by the Latin American Network Against Tree Monocultures stressed that the release of GE trees "will worsen the impacts of monoculture tree plantations," while at the same time constituting a "clear threat to forest biodiversity."
"The STOP GE Trees Campaign will be using this victory at the CBD to help build and expand the global movement to stop any further environmental releases of socially and ecologically disastrous GE trees," added Orin Langelle, Co-Director of Global Justice Ecology Project.
On March 22, countries around the world raised the call for a global moratorium on the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment at the CBD's Eighth Conference of the Parties. They were joined in this call by the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, Greenpeace, the Women's Caucus, EcoNexus, Global Forest Coalition, ETC Group, Centro Ecologica and La Via Campesina International and others.
Contact: Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project +1.802.578.0477 (mobile) Helena Paul, EcoNexus, +55.41.8843.1935 (mobile)
Press Release issued by EcoNexus, Global Justice Ecology Project, World Rainforest Movement, Latin American Network against Tree Monocultures, STOP GE Trees Campaign, and Friends of the Earth International.