Trees are the oldest and largest living organisms on the planet and are and have always been of significant cultural importance to many peoples all over the world. Genetically engineered trees pose unpredictable and unnecessary threats to the environment, biodiversity and human health. Trees are living organisms that undergo complex changes in their life-cycles due to stresses such as insect attack or extreme weather conditions. These changes will cause unpredictable reactions in genetically engineered trees. Trees, therefore, cannot and should not be controlled through genetic engineering.
Trees interact with the ecosystems they are part of to a much higher extent than annual agricultural crops. Transgenic trees therefore pose an even greater risk to biodiversity than genetically engineered annual agricultural crops. The genetic engineering of trees can further be expected to deepen the environmental and social degradation of communities and ecosystems in the tradition of industrial monoculture. While there is no need for genetically engineered trees, there is great need for rethinking the intrinsic value of trees and forests.
This campaign cannot wait. As we have seen with the introduction of genetically modified crops in agriculture, once the genetics are introduced into the environment there can be no way to reverse the damage. Within only a few years of the introduction of genetically engineered corn and canola, for instance, genetic pollution is already widespread, perhaps to the point of no return. In the case of GE trees, it is still possible to stop their introduction and proliferation. This Campaign, together representing years of experience in grassroots organizing, is poised to pose a powerful challenge to the proponents of GE trees.