ISIS Press Release 07/03/08

USDA FONSI for Transgenic Poplars Absurd & Dangerous

Prof. Joe Cummins and Dr. Mae-Wan Ho of the Insititute for Science in Society (ISIS) expose cavalier risk assessment that ignores existing evidence and takes absence of evidence as evidence of absence.

A fully referenced version of this report was submitted to USDA on behalf of ISIS.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (APHIS/USDA) received a permit application (APHIS number 06ˆ250ˆ01r) from Oregon State University to conduct field tests using clones of transgenic poplars and hybrids. Permit application
06ˆ250ˆ01r includes trees with 95 transgenic constructs categorized only by their intended traits, with little or no other details: reproductive sterility genes, genes affecting stature or reduced light response, genes modifying tree physiology, and activation tagging mutants aimed at developing “experimental domesticates”.

An Environment Assessment (EA) [1] prepared by APHIS for this permit was open for public comment for 30 days; and on 4 February 2008 APHIS published their evaluation of public comments and awarded the open field experiments with transgenic poplars the verdict FONSI [2](finding of no
significant impact). Their response to public comments were aimed largely at those submitted by the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) [3] (Unregulated Release of GM Poplars and Hybrids, SiS 36), and showed that APHIS‚ reviewers support field tests particularly in areas where evidence of safety
is entirely absent or insufficient.  In such areas, the reviewers presumed that the transgenic trees are safe, and defy the public to produce evidence of hazard, thereby turning environmental assessment on its head.

As the transgenic trees are novel, the purpose of APHIS‚ EA was to provide evidence that they are safe, and where evidence of hazard is absent, it cannot be taken to be evidence that hazard is absent. The review even resorted to the irrelevant remark that Science in Society, published by ISIS, was not a
credible science source, as it was a journal of  “Marxist thought and analysis”, thereby also exposing the reviewers‚ ignorance of both Marxism and Science in Society.  We challenge any rational reader to find anything Marxist in Science in Society. Furthermore, the articles in question are all reviews of the scientific literature published in professional journals, which have been ignored by APHIS.

Read the rest of this article here

Or read other articles about GM trees here

This article can be found on the I-SIS website at

Photo: Claudio Nogueira

The Role of Eucalyptus in Brazil comes under the Crosshairs of the International Anti-Transgenic Tree Network (June 2, 2023)

Impact of monoculture in territories was the subject of visits led by FASE in Espírito Santo


Note: FASE were co-organizers of the tour to the communities of Espírito Santo.

The article (included below in full) is written by Claudio Nogueira (FASE Communications Coordinator) and originally appeared June 2nd, 2023, on FASE’s website. It is available in both Portugese and English through Google Translate.


The pulp industry writes a sad story in Brazil. Its role in land occupation with eucalyptus monoculture imprints a perverse logic that suffocates traditional communities and goes far beyond false ideas of reforestation and environmental concern. This was the scenario encountered by members of the campaign “Stop GM Trees” (No to Transgenic Trees) and the Alert Against Green Deserts Network, in a tour organized by the FASE Espírito Santo team, visiting locations in the north of Espírito Santo and the extreme south in Bahia, between the 24th and 29th of May.

In all, around 25 people, including popular educators, quilombola and landless leaders, environmentalists and foreign researchers from Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Argentina and Chile were able to verify the impact of eucalyptus plantations on the way of life of family farmers and traditional communities in the region. For three days, the group got to know the experiences of agroecological practices in areas taken over by the Landless Workers Movement (MST) at the Egídio Brunetto Training School and at the Índio Galdino settlement, in addition to hearing reports of the difficulties faced by the quilombola communities of Volta Miúda and Angelim 2 with monoculture plantations. After the visits,

eucalyptus espirito santo

Photo: Claudio Nogueira

For Beto Loureiro, educator at FASE in Espírito Santo, the tour was important for the researchers to realize that the impacts are already terrible, and the transgenic trees are going to be one more aggression in the historical series that monoculture causes in the territories, “since the expulsion of traditional communities, passing through the depletion of water resources and the enormous amount of poisons that they apply now, even by air”. “They are spraying the monocultures by drone, and this poison is spreading, falling on the communities’ plantations, falling on their homes, on their schools. In short, a real chemical war, which takes place here in the green desert, ”he explains.

Transgenic trees, a new threat

Brazil was chosen to host the meeting due to the extension of activities in the paper industry and approval by the company Suzano, in 2021, for the planting of genetically modified eucalyptus trees to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate. This follows the previous approval, in 2015, of FuturaGene’s fast-growing transgenic eucalyptus tree, which was not planted commercially. The country is the only one in Latin America where field tests seem to be taking place today with genetically modified trees.

Genetic engineering directly changes the genetic makeup (DNA) of an organism, bypassing normal plant or animal reproduction to create new traits. Genetic engineering includes techniques that make changes to DNA by inserting genetic material from the same, similar or wholly unrelated organisms, or, with genome editing (also called gene editing), by introducing genetic material that acts as “editor” to change the DNA. Genetic engineering applied to trees is a technical challenge fraught with serious environmental and social risks.

Photo: Claudio Nogueira

Most research is focused on increasing the productivity of planted trees for various industrial purposes. These objectives include pulp, paper and wood production; as well as the use of trees as “bioenergy” crops – to produce biomass and liquid “cellulosic biofuel”. There is also some interest in genetically modifying trees to produce other industrial materials such as pharmaceuticals, using the trees as “biofactories”, as well as experiments to sell carbon credits and proposals to release these trees into the wild to “restor” endangered species. of extinction.

“It made us realize that it is another problem that we will have to deal with”, ponders Beto. “These transgenic eucalyptus trees grow very quickly. Therefore, they must also suck water very quickly, they are resistant to poisons. We can imagine that the burden of poisons in monocultures will increase, and that is what we expect from these researchers: that they return to their countries also understanding that non-transgenic eucalyptus is already a tragedy”, he concludes.

The foreign delegation continued its tour of Brazil with audiences at UnB and Esplanada dos Ministérios, in Brasília, and will continue to Mato Grosso do Sul, also to verify the role of eucalyptus plantations in the environmental imbalance in the state.