jueves, septiembre 11, 2008

Biotech trees for biofuels


Biotech Industry Designs Nightmare Biofuels
Vancouver conference to promote genetically engineered trees for fuel

Vancouver, BC, Canada - Today in Vancouver, major biotechnology corporations are meeting at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) conference to chart the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops and trees, as well as synthetic biology and nanotechnology, for fuel. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and the STOP GE Trees Campaign are here with Greenpeace and the Society for a GE Free BC to oppose these "nightmare biofuels". [1]

"The biotechnology industry has pounced on the tremendous hype over biofuels to push out all of their nightmarish technologies, even pushing the use of genetically engineered trees for transport fuel," said conference attendee Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of CBAN and member of the North American STOP GE Trees Campaign.[2] "This industry conference lays bare the corporate agenda behind biofuels. The conference exposes new collaboration between the most powerful oil, biotech, seed chemical and forestry corporations."

Corn ethanol and similar "first generation" biofuels are now widely seen as a failure because they do not reduce greenhouse gases but are, according to the World Bank, the major cause of the food crisis. Industry is promising so-called "second generation" biofuels that critics say promise to be an even greater danger to the environment.

"Corporations are taking this chance to portray their technologies as a solution to global warming and the energy crisis," said Sharratt. "Monsanto is using the food crisis to re-hash their old, false promises to feed the world." [3]

U.S. based ArborGen, the world's leading GE tree company, will present at the conference today.

"The use of crops and trees for biofuel will quickly exacerbate global warming," said Josh Brandon, Greenpeace agriculture campaigner. "Already there are more forests around the world being destroyed to make way for monoculture plantations of trees and crops for fuel."

CBAN claims this corporate push to use GE trees for biofuels is the main reason why Canada pushed to stop an international moratorium on GE tree plantings at the UN this year. There is a strong international movement to ban GE trees, which are projected to increase deforestation of native forests through expanded monoculture tree plantations.

"We want no part of this nightmarish future where trees are genetically engineered to fill our gas tanks," said Tony Beck of the Society for a GE Free BC. "The B.C. government should immediately legislate a ban on planting genetically engineered trees on crown land."

The BC Ministry of Forests currently states that, "the Branch has ensured that no genetically modified tree seed has been registered or used in operational forest planting on crown land." [4]

Forty-seven groups in Canada signed a letter to the Environment Minister asking for an end to field trials of GE trees. There is currently one field trial of GE poplar in Quebec, run by a federal government research station.

For more information, please contact:

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network/STOP GE Trees Campaign, 613-263-4708
Josh Brandon, Greenpeace agriculture campaigner, 604-721-7493
Tony Beck, Society for a GE Free BC, 604-671-2106

Notes to Editor:

[1] Biofuels are more commonly referred to as "agrofuels" by critics.

[2] see "GE Trees, Cellulosic Biofuels & Destruction of Forest Biological Diversity":

[3] Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world and about 90% of all GE acres are planted with Monsanto's seeds. Monsanto and a handful of agricultural corporations including John Deere and Dupont have set up the new industry lobby group "Alliance for Abundant Food and Fuel" to promote the use of GE crops for both food and fuel.

[4] http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hti/grm/generesource.htm

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