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Greens Stop GE Trees

Greenpeace Prevents GE Trees Being Planted In The Open Environment


Auckland, 13 September 2000
Carter Holt Harvey today told Greenpeace in a letter that they will not plant genetically engineered trees out in the open environment after Greenpeace raised concerns with the company directly in June. Carter Holt Harvey had planned to plant out the GE trees by the end of July. However, as a result of concerns being raised by Greenpeace, the company has agreed to restrict this field trial and not proceed to the stage of planting the GE trees out into the open.

In a letter sent to Greenpeace on 12 July, Jay Goodenbour, Chief Executive of Carter Holt Harvey Forests, stated that ‘I acknowledge the community concern associated with transgenic technology, which has in part precipitated the Royal Commission.’ Subsequently, Carter Holt Harvey has gained approval from ERMA that they will not now plant these GE trees out in the open in the near future.

“Genetically engineered trees are the new playground for some of the world’s major forest companies. As much as we congratulate Carter Holt Harvey’s decision to take public concerns about this technology into account and to therefore stop this field trial from being conducted in the open environment for now, we invite them and the other companies involved to withdraw from their plans to develop genetically engineered trees altogether,” said Tricia Allen, Campaign Director for Greenpeace in New Zealand.

“This move by Carter Holt Harvey demonstrates industry’s partial recognition for a precautionary approach on this issue. We now urge the Forest Research Institute, who have two proposals for field trials of genetically engineered pine trees pending, to follow this lead and call off their applications to grow GE trees in New Zealand” said Tricia Allen.

ERMA recently received over 700 submissions regarding an application from the Forest Research Institute to field trial genetically engineered pine and spruce trees.

Fletcher Challenge Forests and Genesis Research, an Auckland based biotechnology company, are both part of ArborGen, the world’s biggest joint venture in GE trees. The other partners are International Paper, who own 50.1% of Carter Holt Harvey, and Westvaco, two of the largest forest product companies globally.

“We have already seen the market for GE agricultural crops start to collapse, and there is evidence that there won’t be a market for GE trees either. Forest companies seeking certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, for instance, will be scrutinised as to whether they are involved in developing transgenic GE trees, and if they are, this can prevent them from gaining this certification, which is proving to be a lucrative source for the forests market. Therefore it is not only in the interest of the environment, but also financially for the companies themselves, to withdraw from developing GE trees” said Tricia Allen.

ENDS

For more Information contact: Tricia Allen on

(+64) 09 630 6317 or 025 790 817.

Greenpeace background briefing on GE trees in New Zealand

available on request.


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