WATCH: Risks, Concerns, and Potential Problems Regarding the Use of Biotechnology to Address Forest Health

On March 27, GJEP’s Anne Petermann and Ruddy Turnstone, as well as Rachel Smolker of Biofuelwatch, presented to the National Academy of Sciences in a webinar titled Risks, Concerns, and Potential Problems Regarding the Use of Biotechnology to Address Forest Health.

  • Smolker gave an overview of the background of GE trees, why they are being engineered and the evolution of forests.
  • Petermann discussed international opposition to GE trees, including certification bodies that won’t certify them around the world. She also provided a timeline of every GE tree protest since 2001.
  • Turnstone provided a more detailed summary of different kinds of actions and protests against GE trees.

Bios on the presenters and links to their specific slides are provided by the National Academy of Sciences website:

– Rachel Smolker, BiofuelWatch – View Bio | View Slides

Rachel Smolker is codirector of Biofuelwatch. She has researched, written about and campaigned to raise awareness of the impacts of large scale bioenergy since 2007. Her work has spanned from local grassroots organizing to participation in international processes including the United Nations conventions on climate and biodiversity. She has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and ecology from the University of Michigan, and worked previously as a field biologist. Most recently her research and writing has focussed on biotechnology for biofuels and the “bioeconomy”, including GE trees and synthetic biology applications to microbes and microalgae. She is on the steering committee of the Campaign to Stop GE Trees, a board member of the Global Forest Coalition and lives in Vermont.

– Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project – View Bio | View Slides

Anne Petermann is the co-Founder and Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project. She is also the North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition. She has been working for the protection of forests since 1989. She began looking into the social and ecological impacts of genetically engineered trees in 2000 and has presented these concerns to Parties and delegates at UN Climate Summits, Biodiversity Conventions and Forest Forums on five continents. She has also investigated and documented the social, ecological and economic impacts of industrial tree plantations in Africa, South America and the US., especially with regard to impacts on Indigenous and forest dependent communities.

– Ruddy Turnstone, Global Justice Ecology Project – View Bio | View Slides

Ruddy is the GE Trees Campaigner for Global Justice Ecology Project. She is also on the international Steering Committee for the Campaign to STOP GE Trees. Ruddy lives in the US Southeast and has a history of working to defend forests from development and logging through community science, public outreach, protest and litigation. In addition to forest protection work in the Southeast, she has assisted in canopy research in the Sequoias, conducted indicator species surveys in Oregon, performed forest restoration in Utah, and has assisted in campaigns to protect other ecosystems and communities dependent on them. Her international work has reinforced her understanding of the devastation tree plantations have on communities and ecosystems.

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