lunes, octubre 09, 2006

For Immediate Release: October 9, 2006

Contact: Scot Quaranda, Dogwood Alliance, 828.242.3596 (cell)

Threat of Genetically Engineered Trees and Growing Reliance on Tree Plantations Jeopardize Endangered Forests in South Carolina and Worldwide

Environmental Groups Release Report Detailing Threats in Response to International Conference in Charleston Co-Sponsored by ArborGen
Charleston, SC - On Monday morning, environmental groups released a report detailing threats to native forests in South Carolina and the Americas from harmful industrial forestry practices. The focus of the report is the increased conversion of native forests and rural land to plantations, as well as the peril represented by the planned use of genetically engineered trees. The report highlights cases in the Southern United States, Brazil, and Chile.

The report, addressing the social and environmental impacts of monoculture plantations and genetically engineered trees, will be presented in Charleston on Wednesday at the IUFRO (International Union of Forest Research Organizations) conference, "Sustainable Forest Management with Fast Growing Plantations", co-sponsored by Summerville-based ArborGen.

The paper describes the growing worldwide resistance to timber plantations and reviews the human health, environmental, and social consequences of genetically engineered trees. It documents how pollen and seeds from genetically engineered trees, which are grown experimentally in dozens of locations in South Carolina, can impair the health of native forests and threaten forest-dependent communities.

"Scientists at Duke University created pollen models showing that forests and plantations can spread their pollen and seeds for hundreds and hundreds of miles," said Dr. Neil Carman of the Sierra Club. "This means that contamination from genetically engineered trees threatens biodiversity and human health in the Southern United States and around the world."

Over the last generation, paper companies have rapidly cut down and replaced the native forests of the Southern U.S. with sterile pine plantations, which now account for nearly one out of every five acres in the region. This process has scarred the Southern landscape, endangered the health and well-being of rural communities, and destroyed wildlife habitat. In South America, the conversion of endangered forests is rapidly destroying wildlife habitat and displacing indigenous communities.

"For twenty years, citizens across the South have called for an end to conversion of native forests to sterile pine plantations," said Andrew Goldberg, campaign director for Dogwood Alliance. "Many companies have stopped this antiquated and destructive practice, proving it is no longer economically necessary."

Summerville, SC based ArborGen is the world's leader in research and development of genetically engineered trees, which are altered for traits including reduced lignin and faster growth. The US leads the world in genetically engineered tree research and development with 350 experimental test plots, and South Carolina has the most such sites in the US. ArborGen is a joint venture between US-based International Paper (NYSE: IP) and MeadWestvaco (NYSE: MWV) and New Zealand-based Rubicon (NZSX: RBC). In addition to activities in the US, ArborGen is very active in Brazil where they are attempting to commercialize genetically engineered low lignin eucalyptus plantations.

"People in South Carolina and throughout the South need to be very concerned about ArborGen and their dozens of outdoor test plots of genetically engineered trees," stated Anne Petermann, Co-Director of the Global Justice Ecology Project. "Not only could GE tree test plots have serious impacts on wildlife, songbirds, and forest ecosystems, these test plots are also paving the way for full-scale plantations of genetically engineered trees. GE tree plantations pose enormous social, environmental and health threats," she added.

The groups also released a letter written by more than 150 delegates from organizations across Chile. Conscious that the destructive Chilean forestry model is being used in many other Latin American countries and around the world, these 150 delegates created an "open letter" describing the negative impacts that monoculture plantations have caused in their communities.

"Chilean President Michelle Bachelet continues to use oppressive laws enacted by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to expand industrial plantations at the expense of Chile's native forests and indigenous Mapuche people," said Kim Marks, field organizer at ForestEthics. "As a large consumer of Chilean wood and fiber, consumers in the United States have the responsibility to demand that this terrible process be stopped."

The paper will also be presented and discussed at the IUFRO conference at the Doubletree Resort in downtown Charleston, SC on Wednesday, October 11, at 11:20am.

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For access to a press packet containing more background materials and a full copy of the report, please visit:


Info transferred via:
STOP Genetically Engineered Trees
A project of Global Justice Ecology Project
P.O. Box 412Hinesburg,
VT 05461 U.S.+1.802.482.2689 ph/fax



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