For Immediate Release
Dr. Neil Carman, Sierra Club +1.512.288.5772
Global Justice Ecology Project +1.802.578.0477
New Studies Expose Potential Risks of GMO Trees
Red Flags Raised About Potential Negative Impacts of Proposed Large-Scale Release of Genetically Engineered Trees in the U.S.
WASHINGTON - While the U.S. Supreme Court hears its first-ever case involving a
genetically modified organism, alarms are sounding over the proposed
planting of more than a quarter of a million genetically engineered
(GE) eucalyptus trees in the U.S., and transgenic trees are being
ban on the planting of a genetically engineered perennial alfalfa. The
ban was implemented due to concerns about escape and contamination, and
the inability of U.S. regulators to protect the public. 
regulating agencies have "dropped the ball" when it comes to evaluating
the potential risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). 
no independent testing of these biotech crops before they are approved,
and does little to track their consequences after." The report even
went so far as to state, "Indeed, many experts say the U.S. government
does more to promote global acceptance of biotech crops than to protect
the public from possible harmful consequences."
Inspection Service (APHIS), one of the named agencies in the report, is
considering approving a request by ArborGen to plant 260,000 GE trees
across seven states even though researchers admit some of these trees
produce viable pollen and some seedlings are assured to escape.
technology in these GE trees, researcher Steve Strauss said, "There
does not seem to have been any serious field studies, in any crop,
sufficient to estimate the operational effectiveness of containment
genes." Adding, "Until many such studies are published, it would be
unwise to assume that genes can be fully and safely contained in the
near future." 
has been causing fatal human illnesses throughout the Pacific
Northwest. The fungus, which is known to grow on some species of
eucalyptus trees, has killed one on four people in Oregon, and 40 out
of 220 people infected throughout the region. While it is not known
whether genetically engineered eucalyptus plantations would be a host
for the fungus, the fact that some of the GE eucalyptus would have
reduced lignin has raised concerns that they could be more susceptible
to fungal infection.
found that pollen from trees remains viable over long distances. 
This raises concerns about the potential for pollen from genetically
engineered versions of native tree species like pines to travel large
distances and contaminate forests. Williams' study found that, "GM
pine plantings have the potential to disperse viable pollen at least 41
kilometers from the source."
Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a broad gathering of Indigenous Peoples,
social movements and organizations from around the world, issued a
consensus condemnation of transgenic trees (GMO trees) and monoculture
approving the release of any genetically engineered trees," insisted
Anne Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign.
 "The fact that there are so many unknowns and no independent
studies evaluating the risks of GE trees--which include human health
risks and damage to forests and wildlife--is a major reason why the UN
Convention on Biological Diversity in 2006 and 2008 urged countries to
use the Precautionary Principle with regard to GE trees. The
Precautionary Principle would require GE trees to be proven safe before they are released." 
is an alliance of organizations from across the U.S. and around the
world that have joined together to stop the release of genetically
engineered trees into the environment
completion of studies in containment, including in greenhouse and
confined field trials, in accordance with national legislation where
existent, addressing long-term effects as well as thorough,
comprehensive, science-based and transparent risk assessments to avoid
possible negative environmental impacts on forest biological diversity;
genetically modified trees as well as their potential impact on the
livelihoods of indigenous and local communities;"
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