Genetically Engineered Tree Trial Destroyed in New Zealand

For Immediate Release                                                      13 April 2012

Oakland, CA – News emerged today that a field trial of genetically engineered pine trees (pinus radiata) in New Zealand was destroyed over Easter weekend by unknown persons.

The field trial was conducted by Scion, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute (CRI) that specializes in technology development for the forestry sector. Scion planted 375 GE pines last year to test herbicide resistance and study reproductive development.

The company said the destruction of the GE tree plantation will cost around NZ $400,000.

Scion has been working in partnership with GE tree company ArborGen, a consortium formed by Monsanto and International Paper, since 2006.  ArborGen, headquartered in Summerville, South Carolina, is researching over a quarter of a million eucalyptus trees in field trials across the southern US. These trees were genetically engineered in New Zealand.

Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project [1] and Coordinator of the international STOP GE Trees Campaign stated this morning, “With the extreme security measures taken at the Scion field trial site, it is clear Scion was aware of the powerful public opposition to their genetically engineered trees. People understand the inherent ecological, social, and health risks associated with genetically engineered trees. If the government won’t stop them, this action demonstrates that people are prepared take matters into their own hands.”

Global Justice Ecology Project educates the public about the dangers of genetically engineered trees and is involved in legal action to stop the release of GE trees into the environment, including a lawsuit against the USDA over the agency’s approval of a series of ArborGen GE eucalyptus field trials.[2]

On 21 March 2012, Global Justice Ecology Project released a briefing paper on the dangers of GE trees, titled Analysis of the State of GE Trees and Advanced Bioenergy.

Contact: Jeff Conant, Global Justice Ecology Project Communications Director, at +1.575.770.2829 (mobile) or +1.510.698.3802.

Notes to Editors:

[1] The mission of the STOP GE Trees Campaign is a global ban on the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment.  Hundreds of organizations from around the world are STOP GE Tree Campaign partners and endorse the call for a global ban.

[2] In July 2010 Global Justice Ecology Project, Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, Dogwood Alliance, Sierra Club and the International Center for Technology Assessment filed a lawsuit against the USDA over the agency’s approval of a series of ArborGen GE eucalyptus field trials involving more than a quarter of a million trees.  In October 2011, the judge in the case ruled in favor of the USDA, though the process prepared the campaign for any future attempt by the USDA to approve the large-scale commercial release of GE trees.

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