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USA Public Slam NZ Biotech Company"s GE Trees

USA Public Slam NZ Biotech Company"s GE Trees

New Zealand-owned tree biotechnology company ArborGen [1] faces near unanimous opposition to commercial deregulation of their genetically engineered eucalyptus trees.

On 5 July, the US Department of Agriculture received an astounding 280,000 individual comments, as well as 500 organisations representing millions of people around the world, all opposing this deregulation. Only 3 comments were submitted in favour [2]. This avalanche of comments came a mere 75 days after the USDA publicly released their draft Environmental Impact Statement on ArborGen’s request for deregulation.

"Such overwhelming opposition sends a clear message to USDA that GE eucalyptus trees must be rejected–a message the agency can no longer ignore," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-free ND.

"Arborgen is a poor for fit with Brand New Zealand and undermines our international reputation."

Eucalyptus plantations are invasive, notorious for depleting waterways and highly flammable. Wildfires in Chile and Portugal and now in California are being fuelled by the vast flammable eucalyptus plantations.
ArborGen claims their GE eucalyptus will meet expanding market demands for pulp and paper, as well as the fast-growing demand for wood pellets for “biomass.”

Currently, EU greenhouse gas emission policies provide subsidies to burn wood as an alternative to fossil fuels, in spite of the fact that doing so results in deforestation and releases even more CO2. [3]

Regenerating native forests and reducing demands for wood are essential to addressing the climate and biodiversity crises. Expanding plantations of non-native, water depleting, flammable GE eucalyptus, is irresponsible.

With near unanimous opposition to ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus trees, people have sent a clear message to the USDA: Commercial release of GE eucalyptus trees will not be tolerated.

NOTES

[1] On 29 June, less than one week before the end of the USDA public comment period on ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus, ArborGen’s two U.S.-based owners and co-founders, International Paper and WestRock (formerly MeadWestvaco) sold their interest in ArborGen to New Zealand-based Rubicon, which is now the sole owner.

[2] The following numbers of comments rejecting GE eucalyptus trees were submitted to the USDA on 5 July 2017 by these organizations:

Center for Food Safety 24,885
Global Justice Ecology Project 12,312
Friends of the Earth US 27,638
Credo 100,497
Rainforest Rescue 113,236
Center for Biological Diversity 3,107
Action Aid US 1,065
Indigenous Environmental Netwk 985
Total 283,725

[3] 1) Gunn, J.S., Ganz, D.J. and Keeton, W.S. 2011. Biogenic vs. geologic carbon emissions and forest biomass energy production. Global Change Biology, Bioenergy. doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01127.x


ENDS


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