Letter to the Nat’l Academy of Sciences: Stop the GE Trees Bias

This letter was sent by the undersigned organizations to the National Academy of Sciences on 26 March 2015 regarding a GE trees webinar they are hosting on 27 March 2015.

You can submit your own comments, or those below, to the webinar here

National Academy of Sciences
National Research Council

26 March 2015

To Whom it May Concern,

We are writing today with regard to the upcoming webinar “A Science-based look at Genetically Engineered Crops” with the theme “Genetically Engineered Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects.”

The purpose of the 27 March 2015 webinar is purportedly “to gather information and provide input for the committee regarding the unique challenges and opportunities of developing and commercializing genetically engineered (GE) traits in trees”; through presentations that will address the state of the science regarding GE traits in development for tree species and governance issues related to the commercialization of GE trees.

The webinar, however, features the following presenters:
• Steve Strauss, Professor, Oregon State University
• Les Pearson, Director of Regulatory Affairs, ArborGen
• Bill Powell, Professor, State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry

These speakers will not provide a comprehensive or objective overview of this topic as all three are heavily biased in favor of GE tree commercialization and have deep conflicts of interest. Therefore the committee will only hear one side of this complex and controversial issue.

This is a gross oversight as there are numerous highly skilled scientists who are versed in this issue and would provide a much more interesting and well-rounded conversation. These scientists include Dr. Martha Crouch, Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, Dr. Rachel Smolker, Dr. John Fagan and Wenonah Hauter.

However, if you have decided not to address the valid concerns and wide ranging risks at the scientific level and in a proper debate but rather to focus exclusively on the biased views of industry-funded scientists, then this is highly worrying and most unscientific. Please ensure that your webinar and committee participants are aware of this serious shortcoming of your format and choice of presenters/resource people.

Sincerely,

Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project
Helena Paul, Co-Director, EcoNexus
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Jonathan Latham, PhD, Executive Director, The Bioscience Resource Project
Richard Cellarius, Sierra Club International Vice President, Chair, International Committee
John Fagan, Ph.D., Executive Director and Scientific Director, Earth Open Source Institute
Philip L. Bereano, Washington Biotechnology Action Council
Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group International
Tom Lewellyn, REAL Cooperative
Chris Iberle, Community Alliance for Global Justice in Seattle, WA
Adam Macon, Dogwood Alliance
Claire Robinson, GMWatch
Alex Jack, President, Planetary Health, Inc.
Melody Meyer, UNFI Foundation
Lori Ann Bird, Center for Biological Diversity

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