All of us at Global Justice Ecology Project wish you and yours a peaceful and healthy holiday and New Year!
Looking forward to 2021 GJEP is planning to continue to build our work to defend forests, address the roots of the biodiversity and climate crises, support Mapuche and people’s struggles for freedom in Chile, and expand our role to help small nonprofits more effectively pursue their missions.
In September of this year, the USDA published a petition seeking permission to release a new, unproven genetically engineered Darling 58 (D58) American chestnut tree into eastern US forests. If approved, this GE tree would be allowed to spread uncontrollably in wild forests with no follow up, monitoring or regulation.
A detailed analysis of their petition has revealed extreme shortcomings. First, this new GE tree has only been tested in the field since 2017–hardly sufficient to understand how it will behave for decades in the forest. Second, the risk assessments that were done were completely invalid–one study on the impact on pollinators used pollen from non-GE American chestnuts! This is an irreversible experiment with our forests with no clue as to the long-term risks.
Our work this past year gathered an historic number of names and groups registering their opposition to this dangerous scheme and in 2021, this movement building work will continue as we also continue our crucial public education program.
But it is not just US forests that are at risk. D58 GE tree is at the leading edge of the effort by industry to expand the disaster of industrial forestry around the world. If the D58 is approved, precedent will be set to approve GE trees for use in industrial tree plantations in the Southern US and Global South. They displace local communities and obliterate biodiversity. Adding GE trees will make these impacts even worse.
GE trees would also exacerbate climate change. Converting forests to water-greedy plantations greatly exacerbates the risk of horrific wildfires. And studies show that wild forests store 4x the carbon of tree plantations.
2020 saw unprecedented climate-related catastrophes, from hurricanes to massive fires. So we are doubling down in our commitment in 2021 to stopping GE trees and tree plantations.
Toward the end of last year, GJEP and our partners at Biofuelwatch were in Chile. We were documenting a massive public uprising that was demanding a new constitution and the elimination of the crushing Neoliberal economic model that had created the largest income gap in Latin America and handed over huge swaths of Indigenous Mapuche territories for timber plantations. We are continuing to support the struggle for justice in Chile.
On October 25th of this year, one year after the uprising began, 80% of the people in Chile voted for a new constitution to replace that written under the bloody US-backed dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. This is an opening toward a future with justice, but there is much work to be done. The government working with transnational corporations in the country to undermine the peoples’ victory and try to pit social movements against each other.
We are staying in touch with groups and contacts in the region to do what we can to support their efforts for social justice, economic transformation and Indigenous rights.
In 2021 GJEP will continue to expand our role as fiscal sponsor for groups doing crucial work for ecological and social justice, forest protection and human rights. This helps them minimize bureaucracy so they can focus on their missions. The groups include BiofuelWatch, North American Megadams Resistance Alliance, Vermont Street Medics, A Center for Grassroots Organizing, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, and REDD-Monitor.
Thank you for all you have already done to make this important work a reality.
Have a warm and peaceful Holiday,
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