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For more than twenty years, a core policy of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has been a prohibition on the commercial use of genetically engineered (GE or genetically modified) trees in its certification program – but this important ban is under threat.

FSC’s ban on GE trees is necessary to protect the future of our forests. FSC’s prohibition exists because the risks and uncertainties associated with GE trees are too many, and the stakes are too high. The release of genetically engineered trees would threaten forests and forest ecosystems, and impact many local communities and Indigenous peoples.

FSC prohibits FSC member companies from using GE trees for commercial purposes, in certified or non-certified areas. However, FSC allows associated companies to conduct research field tests of GE trees in non-certified areas, a decision that has already allowed companies to advance their GE trees development.

Now, FSC has launched a “genetic engineering learning process” that proposes to directly overseeing selected field tests of GE trees. FSC is developing its own “governance model” of “safeguards” that it will ask companies to comply with when they run these field tests.

The impacts of FSC decisions:

  • If FSC oversees field tests of GE trees, FSC would be implicated in any direct or indirect negative environmental impacts of these field experiments, as well as any social, economic and cultural impacts.
  • FSC’s “learning process” is a first step towards accepting GE trees. FSC says the learning process will help them to discuss whether or not FSC should allow member companies to commercially plant GE trees (in non-certified areas). This policy change could immediately result in companies growing GE trees on a commercial scale and it would open the door globally to the widespread, dangerous release of GE trees.

Sign the statement Calling on the FSC to maintain its strong ban on GE trees

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