Global Justice Ecology Project
¡Soren Ambrose Presente!
Before we let you know about the progress of our programs, we need to take a moment to let you know of the sudden passing on Saturday 5 December of Soren Ambrose.
A wonderful friend, outstanding organizer and powerful enemy of the ruling elite, Soren was a founding board member of GJEP and helped the organization navigate the waters of social and ecological justice work for the past 17 years.
He was a leading organizer and strategist for the anti-corporate globalization movement of the early 2000s, especially A16, the April 16, 2000 shutdown of Washington, DC during the annual meetings of the World Bank. This was the first major protest after the shutdown of the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle on November 30, 1999.
“It’s hard for me to say what is on my mind,” said Orin Langelle, GJEP co-founder. “Soren was my friend for the quarter of a century that I knew him and he was so many things to me for so many reasons. I can’t pay him tribute enough. I am heartbroken knowing Soren’s physical presence is not with us.”
The board and staff of Global Justice Ecology Project sends our heartfelt condolences to his wife Njoki Njehu and his mother and father in Chicago.
Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees
GJEP coordinates the Campaign to STOP GE Trees, a national and international alliance of organizations that have united towards prohibiting the ecologically and socially devastating release of genetically engineered [GE or genetically modified] trees into the environment
On October 19, 2020 the initial public comment period by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the petition for deregulation of Darling 58 genetically engineered (GE or genetically modified) American Chestnut closed. Below are excerpts from comments submitted to the USDA by members of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees.
The Indigenous elders and community peoples who we’ve consulted with have expressed concern that this and each successive step taken toward genetically altering the building blocks of life (DNA), by unnaturally combining DNA from totally unrelated organisms is not the way to right the wrongs that to date humans have caused. They are opposed to genetically engineering plants, animals, naturally occurring organisms that are not found in nature and in so doing, is dangerous at best and catastrophic in the long run.
In broad terms, the deregulation of Darling 58 chestnut would set dangerous precedents: first it would set precedent for the release of engineered forest tree species with intent to spread freely. Second it would set precedent for the use of genetic modification for “forest health and restoration”. Third it would set precedent for the regulatory processes as applied to forest tree species.
The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network asks the US Department of Agriculture to deny the request to deregulate the genetically engineered (GE or genetically modified) American chestnut “Darling 58” in order to protect forest ecosystems in North America and, in particular, to prevent any contamination from this genetically modified organism (GMO) into Canada. Such GE contamination, originating from the US, could adversely impact the environment in Canada and could jeopardize American chestnut recovery strategies in Canada.
There are not enough observations and data in the Petition for [USDA] APHIS to be able to assess plant pest risks and environmental, health and other impacts of Darling 58. Petitioners claim that, “[a]s described in this petition, Darling 58 has been studied in detail and no plant pest or environmental risks have been observed.” (Petition at 18; more at 101). However, Darling 58 was first regenerated from somatic embryo cultures in 2013 (Petition at 74) and has only been planted from seeds in field trials since 2017 (Petition at 82, 231).
A close look at who is promoting the GE American chestnut reveals direct and indirect financial and other links between the nonprofit The American Chestnut Foundation, the researchers developing the GE AC, tree biotechnology company ArborGen, biotechnology company Monsanto (now Bayer), Duke Energy, government agencies, and other entities including the Forest Health Initiative and the Institute of Forest Biosciences that are deeply invested in advancing the use of biotechnology for forest restoration as a public relations tool.
What you can do:
- Read the full comments submitted by groups in the Campaign to STOP GE Trees and our allies here.
- The process to stop the Darling 58 (D58) GE tree is just in its beginning phase. There is much more to come. If you have not yet signed our petition demanding the USDA reject the request to release the D58 tree into forests, please be sure to do so!
- Watch our short video on GE trees below and share it on Facebook.
Recent Media Coverage of Our Work to Stop the GE American Chestnut
As Powell and Maynard push forward with the current support of The American Chestnut Foundation and others interested in populating the forest with genetically engineered trees, The Campaign to STOP GE Trees brings to light many of the questions regarding safety and the future of the environment that have not been addressed.
The majestic American chestnut was once common in forests in the eastern U.S., but a blight has killed billions of these giant trees. Researchers are moving forward with genetically-modified trees that will survive the blight. But as Julie Grant of The Allegheny reports, critics think genetically-engineered chestnuts could adversely damage the ecosystem and lead to a slippery slope of other GMO approvals.
For more news and media coverage from the Campaign to STOP GE Trees visit:https://stopgetrees.org/news/
For our analysis of the Covid-19 crisis visit: https://globaljusticeecology.org/covid19-analysis/
Global Justice Media Program
GJEP’s Earth Radio segments, the Earth Minute and the Earth Watch Interview, happen each week in partnership with Margaret Prescod’s nationally syndicated Sojourner Truth Radio show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles.
You can find all radio segments here: https://globaljusticeecology.
Rachel Smolker is co-director of Biofuelwatch where she works to raise awareness of the impacts of large scale bioenergy on climate, the environment and human rights. Her work has spanned from local grassroots organizing to participation in the United Nations conventions on climate and biodiversity. She is on the steering committee of the Campaign to Stop GE Trees. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and worked previously as a field biologist. She lives in Vermont where she is organizing resistance to a fracked gas pipeline and to logging on public lands.
Amy is a Senior Attorney in the Center for Food Safety’s Portland, Oregon office. As part of CFS’s legal team, Amy practices environmental and administrative law to defend farmers, communities, and the environment from industrial animal factories, aquaculture, genetically engineered crops and animals, and the overuse of toxic pesticides, especially in the Pacific Northwest. A graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, Amy has focused her career on public interest environmental and food law to fight for a just and restorative food system.
The Trump administration is racing to roll back even more environmental safeguards aimed at protecting the nation’s air, water and land. Over the course of four years his administration has weakened or wiped out more than 125 environmental rules and policies, including the sale of drilling rights in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
After 4 years of an administration who has denied the science around climate change, rolled back nearly 100 environmental regulations and committed mass human and civil rights violations, this is not only a “time to heal in America,” but a time to address the damage that has been done to our Earth and our communities.
Global Justice Media News
On 13 May 1985, the City of Philadelphia infamously dropped an incendiary bomb via helicopter on the MOVE home and allowed the resulting fire to burn for hours before the fire department was allowed to intervene. The resulting destruction destroyed an entire neighborhood in West Philadelphia. Members of the MOVE family that attempted to escape the fire were reportedly shot at by police.
More and more journalists and civil society organisations are being sued by powerful businessmen and politicians. We call on the EU to ensure those with a watchdog role are protected from gag lawsuits. This scrutiny is the lifeblood of healthy democracies, writes a group of 87 organisations, including Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International.
GJEP’s co-founders Orin Langelle and Anne Petermann have supported the uprising of Indigenous Peoples in the Southeastern state of Chiapas, Mexico since the Zapatistas first rose up on New Year’s Day in 1994, against NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Zapatistas called NAFTA “a death sentence for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico” due to its socially and ecologically disastrous provisions, including eliminating the hard-won Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution which guaranteed the right to communal lands.
For more on the history of resistance of the Zapatistas visit: https://globaljusticeecology.
Langelle Photography: Photo of the Month
To see our photos and read about our work in Nicaragua following Hurricane Mitch, please visit Orin Langelle’s post Hurricane Mitch, Climate Change and Assassination 20 Years On.