Sunday, October 23, 2011

Eucalyptus trees court loss

Court loss won’t stop environmentalists’ battle against modified-eucalyptus trees
By Peter Downs
The Commercial Appeal
October 23, 2011

Environmentalists are vowing to continue their fight against genetically engineered “frankentrees” after losing a test case in Florida earlier this month.

“We’re not terribly discouraged,” said Anne Petermann, executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project and the coordinator of the STOP GE Trees Campaign.

“We’ll wait until the next stage of the regulatory process and intervene there,” said Mike Stark, communications director for the Center for Biological Diversity, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that aimed to block field tests of genetically modified eucalyptus trees across the South.

The trees in question were developed by Arborgen, a joint venture of Memphis-based International Paper, MeadWestvaco Corp. and New Zealand-based Rubicon Ltd.

Industry expects the fight to continue.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

ArborGen not going public

Public and scientific doubts cause confidence in ge trees to decline
Press Release
Global Justice Ecology Project
May 13, 2011

Genetically engineered tree company arborgen decides not to go public with stocks
Public and scientific doubts cause confidence in ge trees to decline

Summerville, SC - The genetically engineered tree (GE tree) company ArborGen, a joint project of timber corporations International Paper (NYSE: IP), MeadWestvaco (NYSE: MWV) and Rubicon (NZSE: RBC.NZ), decided suddenly yesterday to change its plans and not sell shares in ArborGen publicly on the NASDAQ exchange.

On July 1, 2010, three member organizations of the STOP GE Trees Campaign (Global Justice Ecology Project, Dogwood Alliance and Sierra Club) teamed up with attorneys at the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety to sue the US Department of Agriculture over their approval of a series of field trials involving more than a quarter of a million GE cold tolerant eucalyptus trees because the Environmental Assessment the USDA used to approve the field trials was inadequate. The lawsuit demands that the USDA prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement regarding the field trials because of their potential impacts on forests, ground water, wildlife and endangered or threatened species.

The groups that filed the suit charge that GE trees carry serious social and ecological risks; and that these risks were either downplayed or outright ignored in the USDA’s Environmental Assessment.

“This lawsuit against the USDA is just one of several lawsuits over genetically engineered organisms that have been filed against the USDA by the Center for Food Safety, on behalf of the Sierra Club and others,” stated Dr. Neil Carman, a plant scientist with Sierra Club. “In every case so far the Court has found the agency’s actions unlawful. ArborGen has good reason to worry that they will never get commercial approval for their GE trees,” he added.

Even industry is acknowledging the chilling effect of the numerous lawsuits against GMOs. In an article from April 29, 2011 in Biomass Power and Thermal Magazine, Karen Batra, director of communications for the Biotechnology Industry Organization stated, “Obviously, the litigious environment we have seen in the past couple years is representing a tremendous deterrent to investment in [biotechnology]…” Batra says. “It’s making it very hard to get investments and to see their way through what could be five and 10 years in development of a product, if when you finally do get to a point where you’re close to commercialization, you’re going to have to deal with litigation. It is creating a huge barrier.”

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