URGENT: US Greenlights First GE Forest Tree for Commercialization
In an unprecedented and alarming move, the US Department of Agriculture has given GE tree company ArborGen permission to pursue commercial production of a genetically engineered (GE) loblolly pine with no regulatory oversight or environmental risk assessment. This decision was withheld from the US public for almost five months.
This is the first genetically engineered forest tree to be approved for commercial production anywhere in the world (outside of China).
The potential impacts to the public or to the environment will not be evaluated, and overwhelming public opposition to GE trees is being completely ignored.
This decision sets a terrible and unacceptable precedent. If unchallenged, it will allow other GE trees, with even more dangerous traits, to be developed without any federal or public review.
ArborGen also has operations in Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. Let them know their GE trees will not be tolerated anywhere.
Sign and add your comments to the protest letter below!
Contact the USDA
Michael Firko, Deputy Administrator (wrote the letter approving ArborGen’s request)
Biotechnology Regulatory Services
4700 River Road, Unit 98, Riverdale, MD 20737
Dr. Les Pearson, Director Regulatory Affairs (wrote the letter to ArborGen requesting no regulation of the GE Loblolly pine)
ArborGen, USA – Headquarters
2011 Broadbank Court Ridgeville, SC 29472
Cathy O. Quinn
Manager, Communications & Public Affairs
ArborGen Australia/New Zealand
1943 St. Hwy 30, Te Teko, WHAKATANE
Office: +64 322 9030
Rua Dr. Emilio Ribas, 174 – salas 81 e 82
Campinas – SP, CEP 13025-140
Office: +55 19 3253-3800
A letter dated 28 August 2014 from Michael Firko, Assistant Director of the US Department of Agriculture’s Biotechnology Regulatory Services, to GE tree company ArborGen agreed with ArborGen’s position that their GE loblolly pine did not need to be regulated. This letter was only made public on the USDA’s website four and a half months later, on 13 January 2014.
ArborGen Inc. is headquartered in Ridgeville, South Carolina, with subsidiaries in Brazil and New Zealand. Major shareholders are the multinational wood products companies Rubicon (New Zealand), MeadWestvaco (US) and International Paper (US). ArborGen supplies tree plantations with forest tree seedlings and tissue-culture-derived plants of many species, including varieties, hybrids and clones. It is developing GE forest trees, notably a freeze-tolerant Eucalyptus hybrid that is going through the USDA regulatory process now, but none of ArborGen’s GE trees have been approved for commercial planting.
For more information on this USDA decision, see: