Campaign to STOP GE Trees delegation visits village in Chile burned to the ground in wildfires fueled by industrial timber plantation (visible in top center of photo). Photo: Petermann

Global Justice Ecology Project’s Anne Petermann recently traveled to Chile to help investigate the impacts tree plantations are having on native people and the potential impacts of genetically engineered trees in that region on the Sojourner Truth Radio Show for this week’s Earth Minute segment. Sojourner Truth airs every week on KPFK-FM in Los Angeles and streaming around the world.

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I was recently part of a global delegation from the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees that traveled to Chile to investigate the impacts of industrial forestry on Indigenous Mapuche and other communities in the Bío Bío and Araucanía regions.  We were also there to warn about the emerging threat in Chile of GE trees—being developed in Chilean universities and laboratories for future plantations.

In Chile, two families control nearly two million hectares of industrial forestry land. This has driven many communities into poverty, caused the worst wildfire season in Chile’s history, and left nearby villages with little or no access to water for all or part of the year.  What remains is heavily contaminated by toxic agrochemicals sprayed on the plantations.

These communities–some of which are completely surrounded by plantations–are hostage to an industrial capitalist model of forestry appropriately established here during the Pinochet dictatorship.  And genetically engineered trees, the next step in this model, will worsen all of these impacts.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann with Global Justice Ecology Project