Quantcast

Hundreds Protest Against Genetically Engineered Trees

Climate

Global Justice Ecology Project

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.

A clear message from the protest: “We are sending a crystal clear message to the GE tree industry and its investors—expect resistance.” Asheville, NC. Photo courtesy of Langelle/
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.

Campaign to STOP GE Trees groups participating include: Global Justice Ecology ProjectKatuah Earth First!, Everglades Earth First!, Real CooperativeBiofuelwatch, and Global Forest Coalition.

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An Exxon station in Florida remains open despite losing its roof during Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Florida Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Withers

The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
El Niño's effect on Antarctica is seen in a tabular iceberg off of Thwaites ice shelf. Jeremy Harbeck / NASA

El Niños are getting stronger due to climate change, according to a new study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Julia Ries

  • Antibiotic resistance has doubled in the last 20 years.
  • Additionally a new study found one patient developed resistance to a last resort antibiotic in a matter of weeks.
  • Health experts say antibiotic prescriptions should only be given when absolutely necessary in order to avoid growing resistance.

Over the past decade, antibiotic resistance has emerged as one of the greatest public health threats.

Read More Show Less
Pexels


There are hundreds of millions of acres of public land in the U.S., but not everyone has had the chance to hike in a national forest or picnic in a state park.

Read More Show Less
Workers attend to a rooftop solar panel project on May 14, 2017 in Wuhan, China. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

By Simon Evans

Renewable sources of electricity are set for rapid growth over the next five years, which could see them match the output of the world's coal-fired power stations for the first time ever.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Firefighters work during a wildfire threatening nearby hillside homes in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood on Oct. 21 in Los Angeles. The fire scorched at least 30 acres and prompted mandatory evacuations. Mario Tama / Getty Images

A wildfire that broke out Monday near Los Angeles' wealthy Pacific Palisades area threatened around 200 homes and injured two people, CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Justin Trudeau gives a speech following a victory in his Quebec riding of Papineau on Oct. 22. CBC News / YouTube screenshot

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will remain in office after a federal election Monday in which the climate crisis played a larger role than ever before.

Read More Show Less
Mike Mozart / Flicker / CC BY 2.0

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos in one of its bottles.

Read More Show Less