Meet the faces who make up the Campaign to STOP GE Trees. Rachel Smolker is the Co-director of Biofuelwatch and a member of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees steering committee. Here’s what she had to say about her journey to working with the campaign.
What’s your background?
I grew up in a family of environmental activists. My father, an ornithologist, was troubled by eggshell thinning in predatory birds, a result of DDT use. He and some friends founded the Environmental Defense Fund in our family’s living room and worked to ban the pesticide. I loved the natural world and spent my childhood raising orphaned critters. Later I went to UC California Santa Cruz where i got involved in research on marine mammals, ultimately leading to a 16 year long project studying wild dolphins in West Australia (read my book!). I went on to graduate school at the University of Michigan where I earned a PhD in biology. Over the years I worked as on a wide range of field biology projects, especially involving marine mammals and various primates, including in 1984 a trip to SE Asia to tour and volunteer at orangutan rehabilitation centers.
How did you get involved with the Campaign to Stop GE Trees?
Fast forward more than two decades I was living in Vermont with two children entering school. I needed something, and like many others, I found Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle who were at the time living in the same town. At that time, climate was becoming the overarching concern and the biofuel craze was just beginning. When I learned about the impact of rising demand for palmoil biofuels on orangutans, my resolve became very solid! That in turn led me to Biofuelwatch and to the Campaign to Stop GE Trees.
What excites you about the campaign?
Because GE trees are a relatively new development, with few having gone into commercial production, we have a better chance of success in preventing their widespread use. I consider GE trees to be an abomination and I feel lucky to be able to engage professionally in fighting back. Finally, the campaign has always attracted really good people who collaborate smoothly, have fun, and enjoy working together.
What do you hope to accomplish by being involved with the campaign?
Stop the development and commercialization of GE trees – and do so in a manner that places forests and forest-dependent communities at the fore while also raising awareness of our sacred evolutionary heritage.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
When not working on the campaign, I work on other campaigns – and also play in the garden, fuss over my dogs, take long walks in the snow, cook, tinker on my cello and guitar and hang out with friends.
To connect with Rachel you can email her at email@example.com.