For Immediate Release

Contact: Steve Taylor (314) 210 1322

New York – December 5th, In advance of the public release of a petition requesting unprecedented USDA permission for the unregulated planting of the first genetically engineered plant into the wild, experts are calling attention to the risks and dangers of this plan.

Researchers developing a GE American chestnut tree have stated that they are working with the USDA on this petition and hope it will be finished and publicly released in the coming weeks.

In a series of short recorded presentations, five experts from the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered trees discuss risks of the proposed release of genetically engineered American chestnut trees into wild forests.

The Presenters include:

  • Dr. Rachel Smolker, an evolutionary biologist and co-Director of Biofuelwatch.  Dr. Smolker discusses the science behind the genetically engineered American chestnut such as what is being engineered, analyzes the level of efficacy of this technique and demonstrates the large pictures questions we must be asking when exposing nature to massive experiments.
  • Brenda Jo McManama, Save Our Roots Campaigner with Indigenous Environmental Network discusses indigenous perspectives of “Natural Law and Common Sense” reflecting on how genetically engineered trees threaten indigenous sovereignty and how they violate natural law.
  • Lois Breault-Melican, a former Board member of the American Chestnut Foundation Massachusetts/Rhode Island Chapter.  Lois will discuss her decision to publicly resign from the American Chestnut Foundation after sixteen years of involvement, due to the organization’s enthusiastic support for the GE American chestnut.
  • Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and the Coordinator of the international Campaign to STOP GE Trees.  Anne analyzes the corporate backers of the GE American chestnut, following the money trail funding research into the GE tree.
  • Lorette Picciano, Executive Director of the Rural Coalition uplifts rural and agricultural perspectives on “What Could go Wrong” with the GE American chestnut.

A White paper released this year by Global Justice Ecology Project and Biofuelwatch, extensively documents the concerns surrounding the GE American chestnut.  The impacts to forest ecosystems cannot be predicted, especially in the long-term. Testing young chestnut saplings for proof of safety and effectiveness, as researchers have done, is not sufficient for trees that can live hundreds of years. Also, indoor and extremely controlled outdoor testing does not replicate how a tree will interact and react in the wild. Pollen can travel for many miles, transported by wind, insects or animals. Remaining wild American chestnuts, and organic or non-GMO chestnut orchards are threatened (pg. 6) with contamination by GE AC pollen. Many experts representing rural, ag, activist, indigenous and scientific perspectives from various backgrounds are coming together demanding that the genetically engineered American chestnut be rejected.