Organizations Renew Demand to UN for Global Ban on GM Trees
At the Meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India, civil society organizations released a letter today to the CBD Executive Secretary demanding a global ban on the release of genetically modified trees into the environment.
One of the topics for discussion at this meeting are guidelines for the risk assessment and risk management of genetically modified (GM) trees. The communiqué from the CBD Secretariat on 27 September 2012 stated the meeting will “adopt further decisions to contribute to ensuring the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology”.
“Contributing to the safe transfer, handling and use of GM trees directly contradicts the decision of the CBD’s Conference in Bonn, Germany in 2008″, stated Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project. “That meeting reaffirmed the need to take a precautionary approach with regard to GM trees, and called for contained studies–not open air–of the risks and impacts of GM trees. This came about in part due to a unanimous call by organizations and Indigenous Peoples groups, as well as the entire African delegation and other Parties to suspend the release of all GM trees into the environment”, she added.
Among the threats being faced by forest dependent communities, the conversion of forests and other ecosystems into industrial tree plantations is among the most serious.
“The forestry industry is involved in developing GM trees for use in its industrial plantations, in order to achieve trees that can grow faster; have reduced lignin content for production of paper or agrofuels; are insect or herbicide resistant; or can grow in colder temperatures”, stated Isis Alvarez, of Global Forest Coalition, who recently completed a briefing paper on GM trees in Latin America. “This research is aimed at increasing their own profits while exacerbating the already known and very serious impacts of large scale tree plantations on local communities and biodiversity”.
“These impacts include forced displacement of communities and destruction of native forests and biodiversity to make room for new tree plantations, and depletion of soils and ground water,” stated Teresa Perez of World Rainforest Movement. “The use of GM trees will inevitably and irreversible lead to the invasion and contamination of wild forests with genetically engineered pollen and seeds, leading to unknown but predictably serious impacts on biodiversity.
“By creating guidelines that would allow industry to export GM tree seedlings all over the world the CBD is only considering the industry’s interests while jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of people that depend on forests ecosystems”, she added.
The submitted letter ended: “We therefore demand the Convention on Biological Biodiversity BAN the release and transboundary movements of all GM TREES”.
Tags: GM TREES