News Release

Protests This Week Against Genetically Engineered Trees: “Disaster for Climate”


Following protests against Monsanto and genetically engineered food this past weekend, protests are ongoing in Asheville, N.C. against the International Tree Biotechnology Conference taking place there until June 1.

ANNE PETERMANN, globalecology at, also via Keith Brunner, keith at
Petermann is executive director of Global Justice Ecology Project, Brunner is media and communications associate with the group. They both focus on the group’s STOP GE Trees Campaign and are both in Asheville. The group released a statement: “FuturaGene hosted a workshop on the future of forest biotechnology. The workshop was dominated by debate about what to do about public opposition to GE trees. Presenters lamented the fact that they were being targeted by protesters and that they could not get the public ‘on board’ with their research and business plans. … Two of the major conference sponsors — FuturaGene and ArborGen — are moving forward with plans to commercially release GE eucalyptus trees in Brazil and the U.S.”

Peterman said today: “ArborGen is genetically engineering non-native eucalyptus trees to be freeze tolerant to feed ethanol refineries and biomass burners under the umbrella of climate mitigation. They want to convert biodiverse and carbon-rich forests into vast plantations of invasive, flammable and water-draining eucalyptus trees. This will be a disaster for the climate.”

See the backgrounder from the group [PDF]: “GE Trees, ArborGen and the Future of the World’s Forests.”

Llewellyn is with Real Cooperative, a local North Carolina group that helped organize the weekend Monsanto protests and continuing GE tree protests this week. Among his concerns: “Genetically engineered trees would be grown for biomass — in other words, to burn for fuel. One problem is that this will likely result in farmers growing more such trees and growing less food. Another major concern is that genetically engineered trees are perennials. So, unlike annual food plants that we could choose to stop using at some point, we’d be stuck with these trees, with their pollen getting into other forests, indefinitely and irreversibly.”

Additional background: CBS News reports: “Marches and rallies against agricultural company Monsanto were held across the U.S. and in dozens of other countries on Saturday. Protesters say they want to call attention to the dangers posed by genetically modified food and the food giants that produce it.”

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported on how European companies are cutting down U.S. forests in ways that would be illegal in Europe: “Europe’s Green-Fuel Search Turns to America’s Forests.”