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Countries Call for Global Moratorium Against Genetically Engineered Trees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 23 March 2006

Countries Call for Global Moratorium Against Genetically Engineered Trees

On Wednesday, 22 March, delegates from countries around the world raised
the call for a moratorium on the release of genetically engineered trees
into the environment at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity's Eighth
Conference of the Parties in Curitiba, Brazil. Additional delegates also
insisted that the CBD launch a thorough global examination of the risks
and impacts of genetically engineered trees-risks which have not, at this
point, been adequately examined.

"Yesterday was truly an historic day," stated Orin Langelle, Co-Director
of the Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the STOP GE Trees
Campaign. "The alarm bells we have been sounding about the genetic
engineering of trees have finally been heard," he continued.

"Promoters of this irresponsible and dangerous technology have now
officially been put on notice that people and countries around the world
stand firmly opposed to genetically engineered trees-just as GM crops and
terminator technology are already opposed," stated Lambert Okrah, of the
Ghana chapter of the Global Forest Coalition. "We further applaud the
courageous and far-sighted positions of countries such as Ghana, Iran,
Norway, Madagascar, Egypt, Philippines, Senegal, Malawi and others in
raising the call for a moratorium on genetically engineered trees," he
continued.

Interventions in support of the call for a moratorium were presented by
Global Justice Ecology Project for the Women's Caucus, the International
Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, Global Forest Coalition, Greenpeace, and
the Federation of German Scientists.

"Because there is insufficient scientific data regarding the biological
impacts of transgenic trees, as well as an absence of socio-economic and
cultural impact assessments, it is good scientific practice to invoke the
Precautionary Principle, which is enshrined in the CBD," stated Dr.
Ricarda Steinbrecher of the Federation of German Scientists. "This means
no release of transgenic trees into the environment whilst this research
is on-going," she added.

The release of transgenic trees will inevitably and irreversibly
contaminate native forests, which will themselves become contaminants in
an endless cycle. The potential effects include destruction of
biodiversity and wildlife, loss of fresh water, desertification of soils,
collapse of native forest ecosystems, cultural destruction of forest based
traditional communities and severe human health impacts. The negative
effects of transgenic trees will impact many generations to come.

Following this release is the intervention presented by Anne Petermann,
co-Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, on behalf of the Women's
Caucus.

Press release issued by Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest
Coalition, World Rainforest Movement, Friends of the Earth International,
EcoNexus and the STOP GE Trees Campaign.

Contact: Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, +1-802-578-6980
Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition, 41-9978-3582


#######

Addendum to Press Release

Intervention from the Women's Caucus Regarding Transgenic Trees, 22 March,
2006

My name is Anne Petermann and I am the co-Director of Global Justice
Ecology Project. I am speaking today on behalf of the Women's Caucus on
the issue of transgenic trees, SBSSTA recommendation X1/11 para. 9.

People all over the world are rising up to oppose transgenic trees,
including 2,000 organizations that have signed onto a ban. Transgenic
trees are a unique case. Trees live for centuries if not millennia.
Pollen models created in 2004 by Duke University researchers demonstrated
pollen from native forests in the Southeast U.S. traveling in air currents
for more than 1,200km north into eastern Canada. This means that
transgenic trees cannot be regulated only at the national level.
Transboundary contamination of native forests with transgenic traits is
virtually assured. The Biosafety Protocol, which is based on national
borders, is not adequate.

The release of transgenic trees will inevitably and irreversibly
contaminate native forests, which will themselves become contaminants in
an endless cycle. The potential effects include destruction of
biodiversity and wildlife, loss of fresh water, desertification of soils,
collapse of native forest ecosystems, cultural destruction of forest based
traditional communities and severe human health impacts. The negative
effects of transgenic trees will impact many generations to come.

Women are the ones who think in terms of generations. It is women in
rural and indigenous communities who will bear the greatest burden of the
impacts of GM tree plantations, just as they currently bear the brunt of
the impacts from conventional monoculture tree plantations.

The potential human health impacts of transgenic trees, especially Bt
trees, have not been adequately researched.

Numerous studies have raised serious questions about the potential health
impacts of Bt toxin. A series of published studies found that Bt provokes
a potent systemic immune reaction. Because the risk is greater with
inhalation than ingestion, engineering trees to produce Bt toxin could be
very dangerous. Plantations of Bt trees could potentially lead to
widespread outbreaks of sickness. Women and children will bear the brunt
of this.

In July, 2005 the FAO [United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization]
published a report entitled "Preliminary Review of Biotechnology in
Forestry Including Genetic Modification." In it, over half of researchers
surveyed reported the environmental threat of escape of transgenic pollen
or plants into native ecosystems and forests and their impacts on
non-target species as a major concern. The FAO report concludes, "New
biotechnologies, in particular genetic modification, raise concerns.
Admittedly, many questions remain unanswered for both agricultural crops
and trees. Given that genetic modification in trees is already entering
the commercial phase with GM populus in China, it is very important that
environmental risk assessment studies are conducted with protocols and
methodologies agreed upon at a national level and an international level
and that the results of such studies are made widely available."

In conclusion, the genetic engineering of trees is being driven by
corporate profit. There is no need for GE trees. Just as women and
indigenous peoples have been the traditional caretakers of biodiversity,
so must this body take action to prevent the ecological, social, cultural
and health disasters that will be unleashed by genetically engineered
trees.

The speed with which the technology is progressing is outpacing regulation
and risk assessment. There has been a severe lack of study of the risks
of GM trees, especially on a global scale. This lack of risk assessment
makes it common sense that there not be any further forward motion in the
release of transgenic trees. The CBD must impose a moratorium on the
technology and launch a thorough and global examination of its risks. In
addition, we ask those countries with outdoor releases of GM trees to take
immediate steps to halt the further release of GM trees and to address
those releases that have already occurred.

For more details we have a briefing paper on the issue.

Thank you.

_______________________________
info transfer--


Orin Langelle
Co-Director/Global Justice Ecology Project
Coordinator/STOP GE Trees Campaign
P.O. Box 412
Hinesburg, VT 05461 U.S.
+1.802.482.2689 ph/fax
+1.802.578.6980 mobile
<langelle@globaljusticeecology.org>
http://www.globaljusticeecology.org
http://www.stopgetrees.org


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