Activists Symbolically Cut Frankentrees to Save Forests and Demand Ban on GE Trees

For more photos from the action, go to http://www.globaljusticeecology.org/gallery.php?catID

Bonn, Germany–Activists today stepped up their campaign for a ban on genetically engineered trees when they symbolically cut Genetically Engineered frankentrees that attempted to invade a tree planting ceremony outside of the meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

“We came here to this event because this tree planting ceremony is representative of corporate green-washing initiatives pretending to protect biodiversity,” said Peter Gerhardt of the German based group Robin Wood.  “The tree planting ceremony is symbolic of what industry is pushing–non-native, often invasive trees for monoculture timber plantations. If industry has its way, in the near future these will be genetically engineered (GE) trees for production of second generation agrofuels or pulp and paper,” he continued.

The activists expressed concern about the refusal of the EU and Brazil to ban GE trees.  “These trees are simply too dangerous, not only to forests, but also to local communities and Indigenous Peoples who depend on forests for their existence,” stated Camila Moreno of Terra de Direitos of Brazil.

“Already forest dependent communities, especially women, are threatened by monoculture timber plantations and GE trees will mean more plantations and an even greater threat,” stated Anne Petermann, of Global Justice Ecology Project, and the STOP GE Trees Campaign. [1] “Imposing a ban on the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment is the only sensible position, which is supported by the entire African delegation plus numerous Parties from Asia and Latin America.”

The environmentalists also expressed their concern about the One Billion Trees campaign of the UN Environment Program. [2] “This campaign fails to inform people that planting the wrong tree at the wrong place can be ecologically and socially harmful”, stated Dr. Miguel Lovera, Chairperson of the Global Forest Coalition.

“Companies also want to use GE trees and other tree monocultures for offsetting carbon emissions,” highlighted Ana Filippini of World Rainforest Movement and the STOP GE Trees Campaign. “The destruction of forests, which are important carbon sinks, for new tree plantations releases huge amounts of carbon, worsening climate change. What we need is forest restoration with native species, not monocultures.”

A potential ban on GE trees was discussed at length during the first week of the Biodiversity Convention and will now move into the High Level Session where Ministers from around the world will decide what will happen with this issue.  A decision to stop GE trees is considered critically important at this time because of the rapid advancement of GE trees technology, which is being especially driven by the projected increase in demand for wood that would accompany cellulose-based second generation agrofuels.

Contact:

Orin Langelle, GFC Media Coordinator, +49 (0)176 771 87583
Dr. Miguel Lovera, GFC Chairperson, +49 (0)152 225 344787

Notes:

[1] The STOP GE Trees Campaign is comprised of 137 organizations in 34 countries.

[2] The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a major worldwide tree planting campaign called  Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign.
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