The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Hundreds of demonstrators marched on an international forest biotechnology industry conference yesterday, demanding a ban on the release of genetically engineered (GE) trees into the environment.
The protest, the largest yet against GE trees, occurred one day after two Asheville residents were arrested while disrupting a presentation, Engineering Trees for the Biorefinery.
photolangelle.org for Global Justice Ecology Project.
Following the arrests and the threat of protest today, the conference went on high alert. Police maintained a presence inside and outside the hotel conference center all day, participant badges were scrutinized, conference doors were locked during sessions and hotel access restricted.
Two of the major conference sponsors, FuturaGene and ArborGen, are moving forward with plans to commercially release GE eucalyptus trees in Brazil and the U.S.
As protests raged outside, FuturaGene hosted a workshop on the future of forest biotechnology. Debate regarding what to do about public opposition to GE trees dominated the workshop.
Presenters lamented the fact that they were being targeted by protesters and that they could not get the public on board with their research and business plans. One presenter explained the need to get the public passionate about GE trees in order to facilitate legalizing their commercial release. He gave as an example the public passion that changed laws following the Newtown, CT shooting.
“ArborGen is genetically engineering non-native eucalyptus trees to be freeze tolerant to feed ethanol refineries and biomass burners under the umbrella of climate mitigation," said Anne Petermann, coordinator of the international Campaign to STOP GE Trees, executive director of Global Justice Ecology Project and conference attendee. "They want to convert biodiverse and carbon-rich forests into vast plantations of invasive, flammable and water-draining eucalyptus trees. This will be a disaster for the climate.”
Protesters rallied outside of the conference center for several hours, chanting slogans such as “GE trees–tear ‘em up, ArborGen–shut ‘em down!”
Activists vow that their protests against GE trees are just beginning, and will continue throughout the week of the conference and beyond. Demonstrators echoed one of the arrested protesters from Monday: “We are sending a crystal clear message to the GE tree industry and its investors–expect resistance.”
The Tree Biotechnology 2013 conference, organized by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, is taking place in Asheville, NC, from May 26 - June 1.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Elliott Negin
On July 19, President Trump hosted Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and their families, along with the family of their deceased colleague Neil Armstrong, at a White House event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon.
- Cold-climate lizards that give live birth to their offspring are more likely to be driven to extinction than their egg-laying cousins as global temperatures continue to rise, new research suggests.
Tuna auctions are a tourist spectacle in Tokyo. Outside the city's most famous fish market, long queues of visitors hoping for a glimpse of the action begin to form at 5 a.m. The attraction is so popular that last October the Tsukiji fish market, in operation since 1935, moved out from the city center to the district of Toyosu to cope with the crowds.
gmnicholas / E+ / Getty Images
Kristan Porter grew up in a fishing family in the fishing community of Cutler, Maine, where he says all roads lead to one career path: fishing. (Porter's father was the family's lone exception. He suffered from terrible seasickness, and so became a carpenter.) The 49-year-old, who has been working on boats since he was a kid and fishing on his own since 1991, says that the recent warming of Maine's cool coastal waters has yielded unprecedented lobster landings.
The climate crisis is getting costly. Some of the world's largest companies expect to take over one trillion in losses due to climate change. Insurers are increasingly jittery and the world's largest firm has warned that the cost of premiums may soon be unaffordable for most people. Historic flooding has wiped out farmers in the Midwest.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.