Indigenous People's Resolution
This resolution is drafted and offered as a model that may be used in whole or in part and customized for the purpose of presentation, discussion, and ratification by the members of Tribal Councils, Tribal Community Organizations and Indigenous Front line Communities.
Our forests, the world over, are in danger from disease, the stress of climate change, mega-hydroelectric dam projects, and deforestation from industrial agriculture, to include tree plantations for palm oil, biofuels, and biomass for energy production. The agriculture, biotech, and energy corporations, along with governments and academic research are gearing up to introduce genetically engineered trees that grow faster, contain more turpine (for hotter burn), less lignin (easier to break down for pulp and feedstock), herbicide / pesticide resistance, and those that produce their own pesticide. All to meet growing market demands – of which are predicted to grow 500% by 2050.
The effort to permanently stop GE trees is reaching a critical stage: It is essential to have a broad network of organizations, grassroots groups, alliances, and coalitions that are informed and mobilized to spread the word about the GE tree threat to their constituencies and activate them on the issue.
The Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees was started to do just that.
The mission of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees is to protect forests and biodiversity, and to provide support to communities threatened by the dangerous environmental release of genetically engineered trees.
The Campaign is an alliance of national, international, regional, and local organizations, the goal of which is a global ban on the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment.
The Indigenous Environmental Network is a member of this international coalition, recognizing the unique position Indigenous Peoples’, Front Line / Traditional, and under-severed/underrepresented Communities as those most at risk from encroachment of and exploitation of their ancestral lands.
Letter Demanding A Ban on GE Trees
To Whom It May Concern,
To Whom It May Concern, I demand that all petitions and requests to release genetically engineered trees into the environment be rejected as they are unpredictably dangerous and destructive, and the full extent of their social and ecological risks has not and cannot be assessed. To fully avoid contamination of forests with GE trees or their seeds and pollen, all outdoor plantings of GE trees must be immediately removed.
Further, I demand that all GE trees be banned outright.
This includes GE Loblolly pines, eucalyptus, poplars, sweetgums, American chestnuts and any forest trees genetically engineered for modified wood, increased terpene levels, freeze tolerance, altered fertility, faster growth, insect, herbicide, blight or fungus resistance, stress tolerance or any other engineered trait.
An example of the dangers of GE trees:
Eucalyptus trees are introduced organisms in the U.S. and are documented as invasive pests in parts of California and Florida. Yet they are being engineered by ArborGen for freeze tolerance to enable them to be grown in vast plantations in the US from South Carolina to Texas. Experience in California and other parts of the world has clearly demonstrated that when eucalyptus escape, it is next to impossible to eradicate them. Yet ArborGen plans to sell half a billion GE eucalyptus seedlings annually for planting in huge industrial plantations across the US South from Texas to South Carolina.
The freeze tolerance trait could vastly expand the range of this GE eucalyptus tree–and hence enhance its ability to invade native ecosystems. It would also enable these trees to be grown around the world in regions currently too cold for conventional eucalyptus plantations.
As well, the U.S. Forest Service has stated that large-scale plantings of eucalyptus lower water tables, and affect groundwater recharge and local stream flows, in some cases eliminating seasonal streams. This is of particular concern in light of existing drought conditions in parts of the South. They state, “[eucalyptus] water use is at least 2-fold greater than most other native forests in the southeastern US.”
In dry regions or areas where droughts occur, eucalyptus are at high risk of catching fire. Wildfires in Oakland California in 1991 and in Australia in 2009, both fueled by eucalyptus trees, killed scores of people and caused billions in losses.
The fatal fungal pathogen, Crytococcus Gattii has been found in the U.S. It can cause fatal fungal meningitis among people and animals that inhale its spores. One of the eucalyptus species used in the GE eucalyptus hybrids (E. Grandis) is a known host for Cryptococcus Gattii. Creating extensive habitat for this fatal fungal pathogen is dangerous and foolhardy.
ArborGen’s GE trees and all GE trees must be rejected, and all field trials removed, before it is too late.
Lawsuit to Stop GE Trees USDA Lawsuit to Stop the Planting of GE Trees
Below are links to various documents / lawsuits / outcomes from stopgetrees.org, the Campaign to STOP GE Trees website.
In 2010, a lawsuit was filed by the Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, Global Justice Ecology Project, Dogwood Alliance and Sierra Club to stop the planting of 260,000 genetically engineered eucalyptus trees across seven southern US states (from South Carolina to Texas).
The record of the lawsuit to stop GE trees and all of the associated materials, including concerns raised by the US Forest Service and other public agencies, are archived below:
The USDA’s final Environmental Assessment (EA) from April 2010:
The USDA’s Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) regarding the request by GE tree company ArborGen to plant the GE eucalyptus trees:
The counties where the field trials are located (from pp. 8-16 of the EA) Click on map above for locations.
The Initial Complaint filed in US Court on July 1, 2010:
The Amended Complaint filed in US Court on August 10, 2010:
The 60 Day Notice of Intent to Sue:
The October 2011 US District Court Decision on the Lawsuit:
Rubicon Shareholders Report: For a copy of Rubicon’s 2009 annual report to shareholders, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The reference to ArborGen producing half a billion GE eucalyptus annually for biofuel production in the US South can be found on page 8.
Comments submitted by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division expressing concerns about the GE eucalyptus planting:
Comments submitted by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council expressing concerns about the GE eucalyptus planting:
Comments submitted by the U.S. Forest Service expressing concerns about the impacts on water from the GE eucalyptus planting can be found in the Environmental Assessment, Appendix III
Campaign Steering Committee & Staff
The Campaign to STOP GE Trees is a national and international alliance of organizations that have united toward the goal of prohibiting the ecologically and socially devastating release of genetically engineered trees into the environment.
Global Justice Ecology Project coordinates, administrates and fundraises for the campaign. World Rainforest Movement, based in Uruguay, is the Southern Contact for the Campaign and has materials in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Members of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees Steering Committee:
World Rainforest Movement has been involved in addressing the threats of GE trees since 2004, when they produced the report: “Genetically Modified Trees: The Ultimate Threat to Forests.”
In 2005 WRM, Global Forest Coalition, and Global Justice Ecology Project organized a joint workshop on GE trees for activists and Indigenous Peoples from across South America. The workshop was held in Vitoria, Brazil and included field trips to Indigenous Guarani and Tupinikim communities who were taking their land back from industrial eucalyptus plantations operated by Aracruz Cellulose.
In 2007 WRM produced an updated report entitled Transgenic Trees.
They keep abreast of GE trees developments around the Global South, and have a network of hundreds of organizations throughout the Global South with whom they work to stop deforestation and monoculture timber plantations. In 2008 they produced “GE Trees: A Country by country Overview” detailing current developments with GE trees. This publication is currently being updated.
Winnie Overbeek, the Executive Secretary of World Rainforest Movement, sits on the Steering Committee of the Campaign. Winnie is a long-time Brazil-based activist and is an expert in the dangers of industrial eucalyptus plantations. He has long been closely connected to the anti-plantation Green Deserts Movement in Brazil. He speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Brenda Jo (BJ) McManama
Indigenous Environmental Network
SAVE OUR ROOTS – Stop GE Trees on Native Lands
BJ McManama has been involved with Indigenous and environmental issues for the past 20 years. For the past nine years she has and currently works with IEN in different capacities ranging from graphic design/ web administration to media coordinator. BJ was also a member of two IEN delegations who traveled to the jungles of Peru and central Mexico to meet with Indigenous community leaders. The focus of these exchanges was to share cultural information and current shared mitigation, restoration, and subsistence challenges centered on forest and aquatic regions. When not working on national and global environmental issues, BJ participates with local environmental and social justice organizations whose focuses include maintaining food security and safety, and protecting water resources and forests from encroaching extractive industries.
The Indigenous Environmental Network has brought together and organized with Indigenous Peoples and communities globally on issues related to Indigenous land rights and autonomy. Most recently IEN has focused on the impacts of energy corporations on Indigenous communities in North America; and on the impacts of land grabbing and forest carbon offsets schemes on Indigenous communities in North America and globally.
Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)
Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
Suite 206, 180 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 1P5
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext. 25
Fax: 613 241 2506
Dr. Rachel Smolker
Rachel Smolker, co-director of Biofuelwatch (BFW) is an active member of the Campaign to Stop GE Trees Steering Committee. Smolker has a Ph.D. in biology.
Biofuelwatch works to oppose GE trees as part of their effort to resist industrial and commercial scale bioenergy, which seeks to use crops and trees as feedstocks in the manufacture of so-called renewable energy. The massive amount of land needed to produce sufficient quantities of this alternative fuel, however, is driving massive deforestation and land grabs around the world. GE trees are being engineered to facilitate production of these fuels.
BFW aims to provide a bridge to science that is useful to activists.
Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher
Dr. Steinbrecher is the Co-Director of EcoNexus, and organization of scientists in Europe. She is a molecular geneticist and developmental biologist. She has a PhD from the University of London, UK, and a first class honors M.Sc. from the University of Kiel, Germany (1985).
Since 1995 she has been working on GMOs, their risks and potential consequences on health, food security, agriculture, biodiversity and ecosystems, with a particular focus on GE trees, mosquitoes and terminator technology. She co-authored several reports and documents on GE trees which are found on the EcoNexus website.
She is advisor and consultant to many national and international organizations and processes and has acted as scientific expert in governmental and public consultations and court cases. She collaborates and works alongside civil society organizations, women’s organizations and farmers’ groups in the global North and South, in particular Asia.
She has been closely involved with the UN-led international negotiations and implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety of genetically modified organisms since 1995 and serves on its Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Risk Assessment and Risk Management of Genetically Modified Organisms.
She is a member of the Federation of German Scientists and a founder member of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility.
Verónica González, OLCA (Chile)
OLCA, the Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts, is an organization that supports communities facing socio-environmental conflict, caused by the predatory economic model imposed in the rural territories.OLCA promotes participation and collective activism, the systematization and exchange of experiences and knowledge, the articulation and development of processes of identity assessment, with a gender and rights perspective. In this way, OLCA promotes alternative development models, which are at the service of life, ecosystems, and the communities and peoples that inhabit them.
Claire Bleakley, GE Free New Zealand
Claire Bleakley is the Coordinator of GE Free New Zealand.
Theresa Church, GE Trees Coordinator, Global Justice Ecology Project (U.S.)
Theresa Church is the Assistant Director for Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) and is on the Campaign to Stop GE Trees Steering Committee. She works to ban genetically engineered trees from commercialization globally, nationally and locally.
Church is a 2019 graduate of Naropa University’s M.A. Resilient Leadership program with a concentration in Climate Justice studies. She is from the Finger Lakes Region of New York and is currently located in Buffalo.
Global Justice Ecology Project
Orin Langelle is a photojournalist and the Director of Langelle Photography.
Since 1972, Langelle has documented peoples’ resistance to war, corporate globalization, ecological destruction, and human rights abuses as a concerned photographer.
He also co-founded Global Justice Ecology Project, and is now the Chair of its board of directors, In 2004 he co-founded the Campaign to Stop GE Trees.
Global Justice Ecology Project
Anne Petermann is the Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project. She is also the Coordinator of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees; the North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition; and a member of the Board of Directors of the Will Miller Social Justice Lecture Series.
She has been involved in movements for forest protection and Indigenous rights since 1991, and the international and national climate justice movements since 2004. She co-founded the Eastern North American Resource Center of the Native Forest Network in 1993, and the STOP GE Trees Campaign in 2004. She also participated in the founding of the Durban Group for Climate Justice in 2004 and Climate Justice Now! in 2007 at the Bali UN Climate Conference. In 2008, Global Justice Ecology Project spearheaded the founding of the North American Mobilization for Climate Justice.
Anne speaks around the world about climate justice and against socially and environmentally destructive “false solutions” to climate change. She is also a foremost expert on the destructive social, ecological and climatological impacts of genetically engineered trees, and also speaks about the impacts of second generation biofuels made from wood.
She presents on these subjects at capacity-building trainings for indigenous peoples, and at conferences including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Forum on Forests, and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
She is the author of several reports detailing the dangers of genetically engineered trees, and second generation cellulosic biofuels agrofuels, including their impacts on forests and forest dependent peoples. She is also a frequent contributor to Z Magazine.
She was adopted as an honorary member of the Saint Francis-Sokoki band of the Abenaki in 1992 due to her work in support of their struggle for state recognition.
In 2000 she received the Wild Nature Award for Activist of the year.
GE Trees in 2016 Webinar Video
The GE Trees in 2016 Webinar Video produced by GJEP, Center for Food Safety and Indigenous Environmental Network. Original webinar took place Feb. 9, 2016. Individual presentations were re-recorded for public video.
PANELISTS - Research - Links
THE PANELISTS AND THEIR DOWNLOADABLE (PDF) RESEARCH MATERIALS
Anne Petermann – Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and International Coordinator for the Campaign to STOP GE Trees
- Anne Petermann’s Remarks
- History of ArborGen
- ArborGen Original PR 1999
- GE Trees will Increase Deforestation
- GE Trees and Certification
- History of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees
- UN Decision on GE Trees
Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher – PhD in Molecular Genetics and Developmental Biology, Co-Director of EcoNexus
- Genetic Engineering in Plants and the “New Breeding Techniques” (NBTs) – EcoNexus
- Genetically Engineered Trees & Risk Assessment by the Federation of German Scientists
- Transformation-induced mutations in transgenic plants
Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman – PhD in Plant Pathology, Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Senior Scientist, Center for Food Safety
Dr. Rachel Smolker – PhD in ecology/biology, Co-Director of BiofuelWatch.
- GE Trees and Biomass outline and notes – Dr. Rachel Smolker
- Red Rocks Biofuels Media Briefing
- Destructive biofuels and wood-based biomass out of next Renewable Energy Directive
BJ McManama – GE Trees Campaigner for Indigenous Environmental Network
Additional Research Material
International Day Against Tree Monocultures
Across the globe, timber plantations are wreaking havoc on forests and forest dependent communities. Now, to further exacerbate this damage, genetically engineered trees (or GE trees) pose a new and unprecedented threat.