Ecologists to Raise Risks of Genetically Engineering American Chestnut Trees at American Chestnut Foundation Meeting

Group plans subsequent release of White Paper on GE chestnut trees

Huntsville, AL—Members of an ad hoc alliance devoted to identifying and exposing social and ecological concerns about genetically engineered trees – including GE American chestnut trees – will be in Huntsville, AL to attend the American Chestnut Foundation’s annual meeting at the Embassy Suites October 26-27.

The American Chestnut Foundation (ACF) is a major proponent and supporter of genetically engineering American chestnut trees. It has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the effort.

“The discussion about genetically engineering American chestnut trees at the ACF conference must not be allowed to happen in a vacuum, where the only voices heard promote their supposed benefits and ignore their risks,” stated Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, a member of the alliance. “There are many in ACF who have concerns about the environmental, social and health impacts of the GE American chestnut. Members of the alliance will be attending to help ensure their voices are heard.” added Petermann.

The alliance includes regional, national and international organizations, scientists, Indigenous Peoples, foresters, horticulturalists, farmers and others. Alliance members Dr. Rachel Smolker of Biofuelwatch, Anne Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project, and BJ McManama of the Indigenous Environmental Network presented concerns about GE trees and GE American chestnuts to the National Academy of Sciences last March. Smolker and Petermann were also invited to write an Op-Ed on the follies of genetically engineering trees for forest health for Washington, DC’s The Hill. The op-ed, titled, “The forests are in crisis but biotechnology is not the solution” was published March 28, 2018.

Discussion at the ACF event will help inform the content of an upcoming White Paper on genetically engineered American chestnut trees being developed by the alliance.

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