FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Activists Arrested at ArborGen GE Trees World Headquarters

A new organizing initiative called “GE Trees Fall” launched with a four day GE trees action training camp [1] outside of Asheville North Carolina, over September 24th to the 27th.  Following the camp, activists converged on the world headquarters of ArborGen in Ridgeville, SC on Monday September 28th, resulting in two arrests.

Ruddy Turnstone, GJEP’s GE Trees Campaigner and I were arrested during the protest, which demanded ArborGen tear down their wall of secrecy surrounding their GE tree research and development, and pointed out that resistance to GE trees is growing, with more than a quarter of a million people signing on to letters and petitions rejecting GE trees, and protests against GE trees on six continents in 2015 alone. [2]

These sign ons and protests mark a rapidly growing concern about the dangers of GE trees and the threats they pose to the environment and to people’s health. ArborGen is developing genetically engineered loblolly pine trees with no federal oversight, no public input, no independent risk assessments and no method for the public to receive information.

unnamed-1
Photo: Gavin Bauer​

The four-day action camp was held in the US Southeast because the region is considered ground zero for GE trees in the US, due to ArborGen’s GE loblolly pines. In January of 2015 it was revealed that the USDA had made the unprecedented decision to give GE tree company ArborGen the green light to pursue commercial development of genetically engineered loblolly pine trees with no government oversight, no environmental or social risk assessments and no ability for the public to give input or obtain information–including neighboring landowners.

unnamed-2
Orienteering and comms training at the action camp.  Photo: Petermann

“The native forests of the Southern US, some internationally recognized as biodiversity hotspots [3], are already under dire threat,” explained Danna Smith, Executive Director of Asheville-based Dogwood Alliance. “Between the growing export of our forests as wood pellets to Europe to burn for electricity and the threat of an expanded domestic biomass industry, we are already losing our forests at an incredible rate. The absolute last thing our forests need are genetically engineered loblolly pine plantations.”

The action at ArborGen exposed their secret research and pointed out the potentially serious risks presented by these GE loblolly pine trees.

Pine trees, for example, are well known for heavy pollination. What will be the impact on people’s health from inhaling genetically engineered loblolly pine pollen–especially people suffering from pollen allergies?

How far will this pollen spread? What happens when they contaminate other pines? What will be the impact on animals or insects that try to use or live among these trees–such as woodpeckers, songbirds, deer or turkeys?  How will the soil be changed? What about the water? How much forest will be cut down to make room for these new and unproven GE loblolly pine plantations?

These questions are not being answered. ArborGen is barreling ahead with plans for their GE loblolly pine trees with no concern to the damage they may cause, only to the money they could make, with the total collusion of the USDA.

The USDA cited new technologies for engineering trees as the rationale for not regulating ArborGen’s GE loblolly pines, but scientists at Oxford-based EcoNexus explain “Any attempt to engineer genomes by invasive methods can cause unexpected and unpredictable effects. For example, “cisgenesis” – a genetic engineering technique that uses genes from the same species – is still genetic engineering and is therefore subject to unexpected and unpredictable effects caused by the genetic engineering process itself, and not by the trait or sequence inserted. New techniques to genetically engineer plants and animals, such as so-called DNA scissors (nucleases) and interventions in gene regulation, raise additional concerns.

The next phase of “GE Trees Fall” will commence in mid-October, when GE tree organizers and scientists from several organizations will tour the Pacific Northwest, another key region for GE trees development in the US. This tour will travel through the US states of Oregon and Washington and into British Columbia, Canada over the course of two weeks, stopping in more than a dozen locations to discuss the social and ecological dangers of genetically engineering trees. Several of these events will be held in locations where GE trees research is actively underway.

Our arraignment is scheduled for November 4th.  Information on actions people can take to support the protest and help stop GE trees can be found here.

Notes

1] The Genetically Engineered Trees (GE trees) Action Training Camp was organized by Global Justice Ecology Project, and including the participation of Indigenous Environmental Network and Dogwood Alliance.

2] in 2015 alone, 269,867 people globally signed petitions rejecting genetically engineered trees:

a) Credo Petition to the USDA calling for rejection of ArborGen’s GE loblolly pines signed by 151,806 people: http://act.credoaction.com/sign/GMO_trees

b) Rainforest Rescue Petition rejecting GE eucalyptus trees signed by 101,511 people in 2 months from March 2015 through May 2015

– Portuguese: https://www.salveaselva.org/acoes/988/camponeses-brasileiros-exclamam-nao-queremos-arvores-transgenicas

– English: https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/petitions/988/brazil-stop-the-frankentrees

– German: https://www.regenwald.org/aktion/988/tausende-bauern-in-brasilien-wir-wollen-keine-gentech-baeume

– Spanish: https://www.salvalaselva.org/mailalert/988/campesinas-en-brasil-no-a-los-arboles-transgenicos

– Indonesian: https://www.hutanhujan.org/aksi/988/ribuan-petani-di-brasil-kami-tidak-perlu-pohon-genetik

– Italian: https://www.salviamolaforesta.org/mailalert/988/i-contadini-del-brasile-dicono-no-agli-alberi-transgenici

  1. c) GE Free New Zealand sign on letter against GE trees in New Zealand signed by 16,550 people in 2 monthshttp://www.stopgetrees.nz

3] Maintaining species in the South http://www.seesouthernforests.org/discover-southern-forests/benefits/biodiversity

More articles by:

Anne Petermann is the Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project and the Coordinator of the International Campaign to STOP GE Trees.  She has been working on the problem of GE trees since first learning of them in 1999.

August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
Marilyn Garson
If the Gaza Blockade is Bad, Does That Make Hamas Good?
Sean Posey
Declinism Rising: An Interview with Morris Berman  
Jack Dresser
America’s Secret War on Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Use and Misuse of Charity: the Luck of the Draw in a Predatory System
Louis Proyect
In the Spirit of the Departed Munsees
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Alex Jones and Infowars
Mundher Al Adhami
On the Iraqi Protests, Now in Their Second Month 
Jeff Mackler
Nicaragua: Dynamics of an Interrupted Revolution
Robert Hunziker
Peter Wadhams, Professor Emeritus, Ocean Physics
David Macaray
Missouri Stands Tall on the Labor Front
Thomas Knapp
I Didn’t Join Facebook to “Feel Safe”
John Carroll Md
Are Haitian Doctors Burned Out?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail