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GE Eucalyptus Deregulation Campaign

Take Action

See the danger in action. Watch this five-minute video on the impact of timber plantations and GE trees.

USDA Campaign: Ban GE Trees

Once GE trees escape, there is no way to call them back. Tell the USDA to Ban GE Trees.

Tree biotech company ArborGen is seeking regulatory approval from the USDA for eucalyptus trees genetically engineered for cold tolerance. If granted approval, ArborGen plans to sell hundreds of millions of seedlings every year across the southeastern US, from Texas to South Carolina. We must tell the USDA to ban genetically engineered trees.

The USDA is set to issue a draft decision on ArborGen’s request during 2014. USDA approval of GE eucalyptus trees would set a dangerous precedent that could lead to the legalization of GE versions of native forest trees, including poplar and pine, which would inevitably and irreversibly contaminate native forests with destructive GE traits, devastating forest ecosystems and wildlife. Once GE trees escape, there is no way to call them back.

The only way to stop GE trees from invading and contaminating US native forests is to ban the commercial release of GE trees before it is too late.

Lawsuit Against GE Trees

As part of the effort to encourage the USDA to ban GE trees, Global Justice Ecology Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, the Center for Food Safety, Dogwood Alliance and the International Center for Technology Assessment filed a lawsuit in 2010 to stop the planting of 260,000 genetically engineered trees (eucalyptus) across seven southern US states. Read More

 

Take Action!

It’s time to mobilize to stop the threat of GE Trees. Tell the USDA that ArborGen’s GE freeze tolerant eucalyptus plantations pose an unprecedented threat to forests and wildlife in the US and around the world. You can get involved by:

Lawsuit to Stop GE Trees

USDA Lawsuit to Stop the Planting of GE Trees

In 2010, a lawsuit was filed by the Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, Global Justice Ecology Project, Dogwood Alliance and Sierra Club to stop the planting of 260,000 genetically engineered eucalyptus trees across seven southern US states (from South Carolina to Texas).

The record of the lawsuit to stop GE trees and all of the associated materials, including concerns raised by the US Forest Service and other public agencies,  are archived below:

The USDA’s final Environmental Assessment (EA) from April 2010:

April, 2010 Final EA.pdf

The USDA’s Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) regarding the request by GE tree company ArborGen to plant the GE eucalyptus trees:

ASDA APHIS Final EA FONSI.pdf

The counties where the field trials are located (from pp. 8-16 of the EA) Click on map above for locations.

GE eucalyptus field trial sites.pdf

The Initial Complaint filed in US Court on July 1, 2010:

GE Eucalyptus Complaint-signed.pdf

The Amended Complaint filed in US Court on August 10, 2010:

Amended Complaint (filed).pdf

The 60 Day Notice of Intent to Sue:

60 day notice letter _Eucalyptus_.pdf

The October 2011 US District Court Decision on the Lawsuit:

10-06-11 GE Euc Decision.pdf

Comments submitted by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division expressing concerns about the GE eucalyptus planting:

Georgia Wildlife Resources Div comments.pdf

 

Comments submitted by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council expressing concerns about the GE eucalyptus planting:

FL Exotic Pest Plant Council comments 1.pdf

 

Comments submitted by the U.S. Forest Service expressing concerns about the impacts on water from the GE eucalyptus planting can be found in the Environmental Assessment, Appendix III

April, 2010 Final EA.pdf

 

Rubicon Shareholders Report: For a copy of Rubicon’s 2009 annual report to shareholders, email info@globaljusticeecology.org.  The reference to ArborGen producing half a billion GE eucalyptus annually for biofuel production in the US South can be found on page 8.

Full Letter to the USDA

Letter Below Demanding A Ban on Genetically Engineered Trees

USDA/APHIS

To Whom It May Concern,

I demand that all petitions and requests to release genetically engineered trees into the environment be rejected as they are unpredictably dangerous and destructive, and the full extent of their social and ecological risks has not and cannot be assessed. To fully avoid contamination of forests with GE trees or their seeds and pollen, all outdoor plantings of GE trees must be immediately removed.

Further, I demand that all GE trees be banned outright.

This includes GE Loblolly pines, eucalyptus, poplars, sweetgums, American chestnuts and any forest trees genetically engineered for modified wood, increased terpene levels, freeze tolerance, altered fertility, faster growth, insect, herbicide, blight or fungus resistance, stress tolerance or any other engineered trait.

An example of the dangers of GE trees:

Eucalyptus trees are introduced organisms in the U.S. and are documented as invasive pests in parts of California and Florida.  Yet they are being engineered by ArborGen for freeze tolerance to enable them to be grown in vast plantations in the US from South Carolina to Texas.  Experience in California and other parts of the world has clearly demonstrated that when eucalyptus escape, it is next to impossible to eradicate them. Yet ArborGen plans to sell half a billion GE eucalyptus seedlings annually for planting in huge industrial plantations across the US South from Texas to South Carolina.

The freeze tolerance trait could vastly expand the range of this GE eucalyptus tree–and hence enhance its ability to invade native ecosystems.  It would also enable these trees to be grown around the world in regions currently too cold for conventional eucalyptus plantations.

As well, the U.S. Forest Service has stated that large-scale plantings of eucalyptus lower water tables, and affect groundwater recharge and local stream flows, in some cases eliminating seasonal streams. This is of particular concern in light of existing drought conditions in parts of the South.  They state, “[eucalyptus] water use is at least 2-fold greater than most other native forests in the southeastern US.”

In dry regions or areas where droughts occur, eucalyptus are at high risk of catching fire.  Wildfires in Oakland California in 1991 and in Australia in 2009, both fueled by eucalyptus trees, killed scores of people and caused billions in losses.

The fatal fungal pathogen, Crytococcus Gattii has been found in the U.S.  It can cause fatal fungal meningitis among people and animals that inhale its spores.  One of the eucalyptus species used in the GE eucalyptus hybrids (E. Grandis) is a known host for Cryptococcus Gattii.  Creating extensive habitat for this fatal fungal pathogen is dangerous and foolhardy.

ArborGen’s GE trees and all GE trees must be rejected, and all field trials removed, before it is too late.

Sincerely,

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