(2004) Archived Video: What are Roundup Ready & Bt Pesticide GMO crops? You need to know!
Dr. Lorrin Pang
Dr David Suzuki
This isn’t science fiction. There are currently hundreds perhaps thousands of test plots of G.E trees already being grown in the open around the world. My name is David Suzuki. I am by training and profession a geneticist, and for 25 years I had an active career in science, once having the largest genetics lab in Canada. I am narrating this film because I am concerned about the unseemly haste with which my colleagues and my peer groups seem to be ready to rush in and begin to apply ideas, in this revolutionary area, to apply ideas that I think are far too early, to expose people either in our drugs, our food or out in open fields.
Genetic Engineering is the insertion of genetic material, or DNA, into the cells of a living organism, usually, using a bacterium or a virus. The artificially inserted DNA, selected for a specific trade of interest, can be extracted from an entirely unrelated plant, animal or microorganism. The result is a plant or tree that has been altered in a way that could never occur in nature. Nor could it be achieved through traditional cross pollination or hybridization. Genetic engineering is a new and complicated field which often yields unexpected results.
In discussions I’ve had with my fellow geneticists, they often say “listen Suzuki we are only talking about DNA; DNA is DNA, what difference does it make what organism it comes from. We pull it out of this organism put it into another, it’s just DNA”.
They forget a fundamental fact. We study the genetics of organisms by breeding a male and a female of one species, looking at their offspring and breeding them through what is called vertical inheritance within a species. When you take a gene from one species and transfer that DNA into a totally unrelated species, that’s a completely different kind of experiment! This is now called horizontal inheritance, we’ve never done that before and it is absolutely bad science, to say that we can look at vertical inheritance and use the same ideas to explain what goes on in horizontal experiments. It’s just lousy science.
Director, Biotechnology Project
Institute for Social Ecology
This one gene, one protein, one trait caricature of how genetics works that’s the whole foundation of the biotechnology industry is a complete misrepresentation of everything we know about how genetics and complex organisms actually works.
Biotechnologists think that genes are genes and it doesn’t matter where you stick them and they’ll just function the way they normally do. Any geneticist that thinks about that should know better. Genes don’t function alone. They function within the context of the entire genome. Nature acts on the entire genome because after fertilization there are whole sets of genes turned on and off in the proper sequence so that you get the development of a complete organism.
So that whole orchestration is an integrated genome that acts as a complete entity. To take a gene out of a fish and stick it into a plant, means the fish gene suddenly wakes up and goes “where the hell am I? And who are all these other genes around me?” because you’ve altered the context within which that gene is found. It would be like taking bono out of U” and putting him into the New York philharmonic orchestra and saying “OK folks play music”. Well you’d get a noise of some sort but nobody can anticipate what the sum total of that activity will be. It’s just a mistake to think that genes act as if their traits are expressed regardless of where they exist.
The promoters of this technology would have us believe that genetic engineering is somehow more scientifically precise that traditional forms of breeding of plants or animals and that is simply not true. Genetic engineering is an inherently uncertain process, its inherently hazardous when genes from various flowering plants and bacteria and what have you, are forced into the embryos of either our food crops or of tree… cells from living trees. Ahm, they don’t know what’s going to happen. They don’t know where those genes will land and they don’t know what effects it will have on the underlying processes of gene expression that make a corn plant a corn plant, or that make a poplar tree a poplar tree.
One of the main problems is that those pushing the benefits of genetic engineering stand to gain enormously from it. Today, products of biotechnology are being incorporated into our food, sprayed onto our fields and engineered into our medicines without our knowledge, with little public discussion and with active support and funding of governments. Even though there are profound health, ecological and economic ramifications of this activity, the paper, timber, oil and food industries are rushing ahead to genetically engineer trees.
Global Justice Ecology Project
What we’ve found through our research is that genetically engineered trees are truly the greatest threat to the worlds remaining native forests since the invention of the chain saw.
Large paper agriculture and timber corporations are pouring vast sums of money into genetically engineering trees because they believe they will be more efficient and profitable. They hope to engineer traits so that ….Trees kill insects. Trees resist toxic herbicides. Trees will have reduced lignin the long fibre that gives trees rigidity to the tree and makes it difficult to manufacture paper. Trees that are sterile, producing no seeds, nuts, pollen, nectar or fruit.
TOTAL TREE A PESTICIDE
TOTAL TREE A PESTICIDE
The insertion into the cells of trees of the gene of a naturally occurring bacterium Bacillus Feringensus(?) that produces BT toxin that kills insects would cause every leaf, flower, fruit or grain of pollen of the tree to produce the insecticide. Advocates claim that this would decrease the need for applied chemical pesticide because pests would be exterminated by eating the tree. But geneticists know from experience that using an insecticide in this fashion, selects resistant insects putting the industry on a treadmill of requiring an endless string of different, often more toxic pesticides. The pesticide can’t be washed off because it’s in every cell of the genetically engineered plant or tree. Because of this there is no specific target and no real limit to what or who can be harmed.
Native Forest Network Board member
This toxin acts strictly as in an insecticide and this toxin is also designed to be expressed throughout the entire organism, in this case you’ll see BT toxin expressed from the roots, through the trunk into the limbs and the leaves of this organism 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the entire existence of this organism from cradle to grave and even beyond.
Already crops, genetically engineered to produce BT toxin have unintentionally resulted in the evolution of BT resistant pests. The emergence of these super bugs has resulted in an increased use of even more toxic pesticides to try to control them.
Pesticide Action Network
But, the ultimate tragedy is, whenever you have something where it’s.. it’s like the pesticide is on all the time, it’s in the crop all the time so the only ones, the only pests that are going to live through this experience are the ones that are a little bit resistant to it and the only ones they are going mate with are the other ones that are a little bit resistant to it and so what you do is you breed resistance and you get superbugs where they can eat as much as they want and it won’t bother them. And what’s the result of that? This miraculous naturally occurring pesticide that’s relied on by organic farmers becomes useless in a very short time period because of resistance. And who benefits? Monsanto benefits because they’ve been charging very high prices for a short period of time, everyone else loses.
Of all creatures in the world, insects are the most numerous and diverse and play critical ecological roles like pollination, predation and providing food for other species.
Dr Ignacio Chapela
Environmental Science, Policy and Management
University of California
Producing BT, specifically BT trees, I think is a very, very crazy idea especially if the plan is to introduce them into areas where there is any organisms which might exchange genes with the… these trees. Trees have life spans of 50 years, 100 years and so on, during which time we are going to see the tree putting out pollen, putting out the toxin through the root system again, putting out toxins through every single cell in this tree and affecting insects and all these other organisms during over this very very long period of time.
Genetically engineered plants carrying the gene for BT toxin have inadvertently killed non targeted insects such as the Monarch Butterfly. This was an unanticipated consequence of gene manipulation.
75% drop in Monarch Butterflies
Loss of habit…
We’ve seen this before with DDT. In the excitement of the power of chemistry millions of pounds of DDT were used. It wasn’t until years later that people noticed that song birds and eagles were disappearing, victims of biomagnifications that concentrates DDT up the food chain. What the long term consequences of toxic trees will be is unknown.
We know that the BT toxin is leeched into the root system and we know that it alters the composition of the microbial community in the soil. A forest that kills insects would be catastrophic, causing widespread destruction to the balance of nature in which insects are a crucial part.
Furthermore, BT toxin is being exuded by the root systems of corn and as we will see, trees, and what this means is that the DT toxin is entering the soil system via the roots of the organism containing the toxin. Now the bacteria in the soil system are actually picking up the toxin and transferring it throughout soil bacteria in an entire ecosystem. And this BT toxin is now being expressed or produced and emitted through this bacteria in unprecedented and very unnatural amounts through soil systems. We’re also seeing evidence of this BT toxin moving through soil systems and being emitted into ground water and surface water as well, and we’re finding in areas were BT toxin corn is grown in high concentrations, we’re finding abnormally high amounts of BT toxin; some 3,4 and 5 times the amount that should be in water systems.
Growing evidence suggests that BT crops can induce allergies and respiratory illnesses in human beings. In a recent study, Terje Traavik director of the Norwegian Institute for gene ecology found evidence of diseases triggered by an immune reaction to BT toxin in Philippine farmer workers living near a field of genetically engineered BT producing corn.
Showed signs of exposure to…
Anti pest toxin
Because tree pollen can travel for hundreds of miles, genetically engineered trees could have a widespread impact on human health.
Headaches, dizziness, extreme stomach pain
Vomiting and allergies
They are also genetically engineering fruit trees. Cornell University is very much involved in genetic engineering of apple trees and what is really frightening there is what we’ve seen with corn and other crop plants that have been genetically engineered is the possibility for allergic reactions by people, so there’s a real serious threat to human health from these genetically engineered fruit trees, because of the fruit going to market, it’s not labelled, nobody knows that its genetically engineered, people eat it, and who knows what is going to happen people just don’t know what the impact will be on human health.
Many papaya growers on the big island of Hawaii faced with the rampant spread of ring spot virus have planted genetically engineered “Sun up” papaya plants. But now, 5 years later, these genetically engineered papayas have black spot fungus. Growers are forced to heavily spray toxic fungicides on their plants every 10 days to control the fungus.
September 9, 2004
GMO papayas are also susceptible to the black spot fungus which means GMO farmers have to buy more costly pesticides
Some farmers are going out of business growing these papayas as the price doesn’t cover the cost.
Although the effects of genetically engineered papaya on human health are not known, it has been discovered that people can have a wide range of allergic reactions to certain proteins used to alter the fruit.
I am concerned about GMO’s for a couple of reasons.
Dr Eric Cleveland, PhD
UHH college of Agriculture
First off, I am concerned about the long term effects of consuming foods that derive from GMO organisms. Personally I don’t want to consume GMO foods. I am also concerned about the long term effects on birds and animals that consume GMO organisms.
Today, I’ll speak as a private citizen, until further notice I will always speak as a private citizen on this matter. Genetic engineering is more than just the transfer of a novel gene.
Dr Lorrin Pang, MD, MPH
Maui district Health Officer
The construct is the mutant gene, but it’s linked to a vector which is usually a bacteria or virus, it is also linked to a promoter and also linked with a drug resistant marker. Now the national academy of science has just released a report and it says the potential risk of unintended side effects from GE foods, genetically engineered foods, is greater than from a natural process, so it kind of alarms you to watch carefully for GE foods.
Large numbers of people are being subjected to a massive experiment without providing informed consent. At the very least we should be able to see what food is genetically engineered so we can make our own choice.
We know there is a lot of experimentation going on all over this country in genetic engineering of fruit trees for example, whether allergic properties will pass on through that genetic engineering and people will buy an apple in the store that will have an effect on their health that will be completely unpredictable in advance.
TOTAL TREE A PESTICIDE
Another trait being genetically engineered into trees is resistance to the herbicide glyphosate, known as Roundup. The trees will then be considered Roundup Ready plants.
ROUND UP READY TREES
Roundup Ready plants and trees can be sprayed with Monsanto’s Roundup and not be killed. The weeds around them however, will die. This encourages widespread use of this herbicide.
Trees are being engineered to express a gene that allows them to be sprayed aerially in mass with enormous quantities of glyphosate, and glyphosate is the main active ingredient that we find in Monsanto’s Roundup. Glyphosate is especially harmful to all ecosystems. Glyphosate has been linked directly to harmful effects and in many cases fatal effects on earthworms, small mammals, birds, fish and it has worked its way into the food chain in many ways and even in this state of California it is linked as the second or third most common source of landscape and outdoor worker illness that there are and California is the only state keeping those statistics at the moment.
GENETICALLY ENGINEEERED TREES
Researchers promoting Roundup Ready trees make the unproven claim that the technology will reduce herbicide use. Again, a current look at agriculture gives us a more accurate forecast of roundup Ready trees. In the US, farmers, knowing that their crops can tolerate Roundup, have tripled the use of herbicide according to the US based Pesticide Action Network
Herbicide use up
33,100 tons on GMO crops
If you take plants and make them resistant to a herbicide, what does that mean? It means, hey, no problem you can put herbicide all over the place and it won’t kill the plant, so of course it’s associated with greater herbicide use.
We are talking ultimately about more chemicals being used, we are talking about more native forests being destroyed in order to grow plantations and we are talking about this completely uncontrollable threat of pollen drift.
“Monsanto should not have to vouch for the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job”
Phil Angell quoted in “Playing God in the Garden”
New York Times, 10/25/98
We should remember that Monsanto, who defended the use of DDT, is currently the world’s leading promoter of genetically engineered crops. They now claim that Roundup is safe. However a study of farmers exposed to glyphosate showed they have an increased risk of miscarriages, premature births and the cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Cancer: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Glyphosate also damages soil and beneficial fungi and bacteria and it seeps into running water and can contaminate ground water. The Danish government banned Roundup because glyphosate was found in that countries drinking water.
Bans the use of Roundup
We have evidence of glyphosate remaining active and lethal for anywhere from 7 to 8 months to over a year in certain soil systems and this is certainly something that we do not need to introduce in any way, shape or form into environments whether it’s on agricultural crops, or in this case plantations and former native forests converted into plantations.
TOTAL TREE A PESTICIDE
Lignin is the fibre that gives rigidity to the tree, but it’s very hard and expensive to remove for the pulp paper industry.
And the third trait that the technology is focusing on here is the, err, the gene that expresses a reduced lignin level. Lignin is the substance in a tree or other plant life that gives that particular organism strength and rigidity. It appears in every cell, it’s what allows and organism, a tree in this case, to grow up straight and strong and to withstand wind or storms or insects or even disease.
Of course trees that have less lignin have less structural integrity, they are more susceptible to disease, they are more susceptible to insect damage.
The paper industry claims reducing lignin from trees means less chemicals will be used during paper processing. However lignin reduction increases a trees susceptibility to insects leading to increased pesticide use. These trees are also more susceptible to disease and animal browsing, as well as environmental stresses like wind that will kill many of these trees. In addition, dead low lignin trees rot more quickly, releasing carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. What’s more, there is no way to predict what the long term consequences will be if this technology is released into nature.
The best thing for the environment is to not make paper out of tree pulp to start with. There are agricultural wastes there are all sorts of recycled materials that can be used to make paper. The whole idea of using living trees and cutting them down to grind up into pulp to make paper is a completely absurd and incredibly wasteful process from the word go. IOF the paper industry cared on iota about the environment, they wouldn’t be investing in genetic engineered trees, they would be investigating alternatives to word fibre as a source of paper pulp.
Rainforest Action Network
There are of course alternatives out there, alternative fibres; hemp, kenaf, agricultural waste and beyond that there is also so much waste just within the waste stream itself that its estimated that like about 1 in 10 of the trees cut out of a national forest basically go directly into a landfill. So we’re talking about a massive amount of waste that if we could just reduce the massive amount of waste that we’re using within our current consumption levels, we could probably eliminate the need for genetically engineered trees, we could eliminate the need for any forest based paper products at all.
Pollen can blow over many, many miles, and one of the greatest threats is the blowing of genetically engineered pollen onto native lands and forests. Native trees will be contaminated and will continue to contaminate more trees in an endless cycle, with trees capable of spreading their pollen over hundreds of miles it wouldn’t take long for a genetically engineered tree in a test plot in Michigan for example, to contaminate all of North America. Sterility of terminator technology is industry’s solution to this problem, but will it work?
Now the fourth trait that industry is aggressively pursuing here is the sterility gene. Industry is hoping that it can maintain a sterile gene in all of these organisms, trees as well agricultural crops to keep cross pollination from happening. However we do know that industry is not going to guarantee sterility 100% of the time, they have said so.
CEO Wildwood Natural Foods
The terminator gene produces a toxin that prevents the plant, the seeds coming from that plant being viable, so that you can’t plant the soya bean seeds if they had a terminator gene implanted in them. You can’t replant that seed. Now if you take that a step further, now we are consuming that, that seed that can’t be replanted, so what’s happened to it nutritionally and how’s that toxin, you know.. it’s a marvellous science if they can do that but there knowledge is way ahead of their wisdom here because now we’re consuming that product and its potentially terminating us in some subtle way that can’t be told for 10 or 20 years.
Plans to manufacture and develop sterile trees are already underway, in reality, this is a lose-lose proposition. It’s almost impossible to induce 100% sterility; the urge to reproduce is powerful indeed.
Martha Crouch was a plant geneticist at Indiana University who did some of the basic science upon which the terminator technology, as it’s called, is based, says that this is a technology that can never be reliable, and that even a small amount of slippage in the reliability of these sterility technologies can actually spread sterility to other plant varieties in the case of food crops and into our native forests.
What will the genetically engineered tree plantations of the future look like? Well if we combine all the impacts of the different traits that they are engineering these trees for what we can imagine is what will have, let’s say the plantation is a 1000 acres in size, its directly adjacent to native wild forests, because it’s been engineered to be insect resistant there are no insects whatsoever, because it’s been engineered to be herbicide resistant it will be heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals, there are no understory plants at all, because they’ve been engineered to be sterile a good 95% of the trees have no fruit, no nuts, no seeds, no pollen, no flowers, no food of any kind for wildlife, so there’s no wildlife in this plantation. The other 5% that aren’t sterile are contaminating the surrounding native forest with these traits, so those forests are now becoming inhospitable to wildlife. In addition because many of the trees are sterile the energy that would have gone into reproduction is going into faster growth so you are ending up with trees that are very rapidly diminishing the ground water, very rapidly diminishing the soils and that in only 25-30 years will have completely desertified the land, which means that you now have thousands of acres of desert and now they have to go cut down the native forest next door to have another thousand acres to re-establish the new plantation.
There are test plots of genetically engineered trees being grown in about 100-150 locations all over the United States right now. Many of these are outdoor plots that can affect our own forests, that can affect the integrity of land that people already depend on. There are farmers in Northern Michigan where there is GE tree research going on whose own land is potentially being contaminated already by experimental plots of genetically engineered trees.
September 9, 2004
Organic papaya growers on the big island of Hawaii have lost their certification because of contamination from the genetically engineered plants.
Mark Query, certified arborist
International Soc. Of Arbiculture
The big island composite was 80% organic and 20% wild or back yard papayas. In this sample, the overall GMO contamination level was about 50%.
Hi, my name’s Toi, I’ve been a big island farmer, organic farmer for over 6 years. My family farm recently found out we have GMO contamination on our 170 tree papaya orchard. Test results showed no GMO trees, well what’s going on here? However, the seeds inside the papaya fruit tested positive for GMO contamination. Somehow GMO airborne pollen had contaminated the papaya seed in the fruit on these non GMO trees. GMO pollen from an unknown airborne source has ruined our entire papaya crop. Because of my integrity as an organic farmer, I had no choice but to cut down all 170 trees, that’s 170 trees. We lost, number 1, our own seed stock and number 2, thousands of dollars in papaya sales.
In my opinion we have not studied these things carefully enough before release, especially into the open field and after today’s finding about how widespread these things are it just raises my concern that much more. When we make a mistake medically we recall product, can you recall this? Thank you.
Monsanto filed 90 lawsuits against US farmers
500 U.S. farmers investigated annually
$10 million: Monsanto’s annual investigating and prosecuting budget (plus 75 staff)
$15,253,602: recorded judgments granted to Monsanto from farmers
The spread of genetic material has legal implications for land owners and for public lands. Recent legal cases suggest that contaminated trees will become the property of the corporation that patented their genetically engineered genes, regardless as to whether those genes are on public or private land. A look at what has happened to farmers like Percy Schmeiser offers a preview of what could happen if genetically engineered traits contaminate our forests.
When Monsanto made the lawsuit against me, they admitted it was a test case and they wanted to see how far they could exercise patent law control over a farmer regardless of how their seed gets into the farmers field. And the judge after 2.5 weeks of trial ruled… what he ruled is what startled property owners and farmers throughout the world when he ruled it does not matter how any of Monsanto’s GMO seeds or plants, in this case canola, gets onto a farmer’s field. He went on so far as to specify how this could happen; cross pollination, direct seed movement by wind, by birds, by flights etc, it does not matter how it gets there, destroying your crop, all of your crop becomes Monsanto’s ownership and they can lay a lawsuit on top of it against you, even if the contamination rate is 1%. All your other 99% of your crop goes to Monsanto and that’s what startled the world; how farmers could lose their rights overnight, an organic farmer could lose his seeds and his rights overnight and get subject to a lawsuit.
What this all means with these patent laws that Monsanto has on life giving forms such as a gene is that if they are saying that if they put one gene into any life form, a seed or a plant, they have invented that seed or plant. That means that if a gene gets into any species of trees the person who has those trees, or the government, it no longer belongs to them, it belongs to Monsanto, because once a gene gets in they say they have invented that seed, they have invented that plant they have invented that gene… that tree with just one gene in it and that’s how serious this whole issue of GMO’s are.. it’s not only the issue of food and environment, but it’s the whole issue of control of all our natural resources including seeds and plants.
So the genetic engineering adds a whole new layer to that, that trees will be produced essentially be companies in the lab, be intellectual property and then could “escape” onto our public lands. What does that mean? Would a corporation have the right to go onto the public land and say “well that’s my tree, I produced it in my laboratory; I get to cut it down”? Does it mean they get to drive a road into the wilderness, or the public has to pay for a road into a wilderness area that’s never been logged because some pollen fell into that forest and now a tree has grown up and that forest that was once a national park, perhaps like Yellowstone or Yosemite? These are huge issues and this is a public debate that we need to have.
This public debate will need to answer some difficult questions. Can life be owned? If a corporation changes one gene in a tree does it own that tree and all the trees it contaminates? Is life a commodity? I feel it is very important for scientists to engage in public discussions about the significance and implications of their work, especially in the case of genetic engineering, when we will all be impacted.
When we are talking about the privatization of life itself for private profit, we are talking about a very radical economic, political and social agenda which runs completely counter to the values and world views of many indigenous communities, communities in the south and frankly most right thinking people around the world who would see life as being much more than just something that can be bought and sold and manipulated by a few private companies for their own profit.
Genetically engineered trees are being targeted to where labour and land is cheap and the growing season is long, particularly the global south; central and south America, Mexico, china, Indonesia, Africa and New Zealand as well as the southern United states. These places are already subject to the negative impacts of plantation style tree farming. Fast growing GE tree plantations threaten to worsen these problems using up precious water needed for other crops and livestock.
Village Council Member
The water tables are affected because of the eucalyptus. Small streams are disappearing and the soil gets dry and hard; you can see for yourself. Even after it rains the soil dries up very quickly, before it used to maintain the water for 10-20 days – not any more.
Argentina – misiones
Genetically engineered tree plantations threaten to destroy native forests and to displace local farms and sustainable economies. Previously self sufficient communities will be forced to leave their lands in search of livelihoods elsewhere while their land becomes the site of plantations, processing plants and factory style packaging facilities. Although the land and livelihood of indigenous peoples around the globe would be threatened immediately, the long term affects of genetically engineered trees would eventually be felt by everyone. Beyond providing habitat and food for wildlife native forests are considered the lungs of the earth. They absorb carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas and produce oxygen. They also filter water and release it into the atmosphere. Disrupting forest ecosystems endangers the health of the planet.
Communities of people that depend on intact native forests for their survival, whether forest based communities here in North America, or especially the case of indigenous communities in the global south, the potential pollution and contamination and genetic disruption of native forest ecosystems can be absolutely disastrous for people whose livelihoods depend on intact native forests.
There is no serious consideration about what’s going to happen to the people who live there. What is going to happen to our livelihoods? What is going to happen to the way of managing these ecosystems that has been so important for the world for the last 10000 years?
Most of our current ideas, especially in a revolutionary area like biotechnology, are going to turn out to be wrong. That’s not a denegation or insult to science, that’s the way a science progresses. You make a set of observations, you set up a hypothesis to make sense of them you carry out an experiment you get the results then you say, “how well did we do?”. Chances are you’d say “oh man was I wrong”, you toss that hypothesis out and set up another one. That’s how science progresses. So I want to repeat, in any revolutionary area, and biotechnology is a revolutionary area, most of current ideas are wrong. Then I ask you “what the hell is the rush to apply these ideas that we’re getting?”. We’re still at the bare beginning of understanding what we’re doing. The rush to apply these ideas is absolutely dangerous because we don’t have a clue what the long term impact of our manipulations is going to be
Demands convincing evidence of need and safety
What is need is the application of the precautionary principle to genetically engineered organisms. The precautionary principle demands convincing evidence of both a need for the product and safety before the acceptance of a new technology.
It’s a lose-lose scenario. There is no way of dealing with this unless you stop this technology before it gets out of the laboratory.
I think now’s the time to stop this technology before it’s too late. And I think it can be stopped.
This is about the corporate enclosure of life itself, and that is why I think it’s so important for people to stand up and resist GE trees. If we want a future on this planet for people, for communities that have natured and cherished biodiversity around the world, especially indigenous communities that are being displaced very often by these transnational timber companies; we need to actually be standing up and doing something about this before it’s too late.
Dr. Neil J. Carman,
Clean Air Program Director
Lone Star Chapter of Sierra club
Consumers can vote on a daily basis for GE free foods, fruits, nuts, paper products and lumber with thoughtful shopping. Consumers can ask where their food products are coming from. Paper and wood products for example can be purchased from a known source. We can seek out locally grown organic produce. Ask for organic products at your local grocery store and purchase wood or paper products made from non-genetically engineered trees. You can exercise your consumer power every day. Buy organic and urge your friends and family to do the same.
One of the things that’s important is that Kinco`s which is a major consumer of paper in the United States, has released their endangered forests policy that gives preference to suppliers of paper that don’t use genetically engineered trees. This is one of the first of its kind policies and Kinco’s is really setting a higher bar in the industry. These are the kind of policies we are going to be pushing for from other companies like Home Depot like all the other logging companies and this issue will become more and more of an issue and essentially what we can do is squeeze companies like International Paper and others our of the market place so they no longer have large customers Like Kinco’s and others that they can supply to. This is an economic way of using our power as consumers in our society to make change.
I could not have done this, stood up to them, without financial help and the help, whether by word of mouth or encouragement, if I not would have had help from people from all over the world from every continent I had that help and we learnt to live off the strength of other people. No one could stand up otherwise to a US$30 billion corporation in court.
Well first of all, learn the facts. There are many groups that are starting to work in this area; they always need help and volunteers. Work is being done internationally to educate the public about the threats of genetically engineered trees. They are also working to ban the commercial development of genetically engineered trees. All change is local and you can begin by starting action groups and helping to educate your community. Make sure your community is aware of the dangers of genetic engineering and is armed with the ability to make sound judgments based on unbiased information. Speak with your community, and where possible with your local or national government to build resistance and stop genetically engineered plants, seeds and products from entering your community.
The rush to apply these ideas is absolutely dangerous because we don’t have a clue what the long term impact of our manipulations is going to be. The environmental health of the planet and the health of our families and communities are in our hands and in the trees.