Why we risked arrest and spent the day in jail to STOP GE Trees
By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator, International Campaign to STOP GE Trees
Yesterday morning, Ruddy Turnstone and I were arrested in the small rural town of Ridgeville, South Carolina, outside of the world headquarters of genetically engineered tree company ArborGen. Ruddy is the GE trees Campaigner for Global Justice Ecology Project and a Steering Committee member of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees.
We were arrested while trying to raise awareness about ArborGen’s plans to create genetically engineered loblolly pine trees without giving the public any information about them.
We were also there to highlight the fact that, in the past year, more than a quarter of a million people and hundreds of organizations around the world have signed on to petitions and letters rejecting all GE trees.
But in Ridgeville, SC, in ArborGen’s unassuming greenhouses, the company is secretly developing and testing loblolly pine trees that have been genetically engineered with fundamental changes to the trees’ wood.
These GE pine trees are being developed with no opportunity for the public to learn when or where ArborGen plans to sell or plant them. The public is also being given no information on the risks of these trees.
And these risks are potentially very serious. Pine trees are well known for heavy pollination. What will be the impact on people’s health from inhaling this genetically engineered pollen–especially people suffering from pollen allergies?
How far will this pollen spread? What happens when they contaminate other pines? What will be the impact on animals or insects that try to use or live among these trees–such as woodpeckers, songbirds, deer or turkeys?
How will the soil be changed? What about the water? How much forest will be cut down to make room for these new and unproven GE loblolly pine plantations?
These questions are not being answered. ArborGen is barreling ahead with plans for their GE loblolly pine trees with no concern to the damage they may cause, only to the money they could make.
The public has the right to know. ArborGen’s wall of secrets must be torn down.