World Rainforest Movement

Campaign against genetically engineered trees

Genetically engineered trees are a new threat pending on native forests and other ecosystems worldwide. The development of “Frankentrees” is being promoted by joint-ventures formed by biotechnology, chemical and paper giants, together with some of the world’s largest landowners. Monsanto -which has a long dark history in the field of genetically engineered food- ForBio, International Paper, Fletcher Challenge Forests, GenFor, Canada Interlink, Silvagen, the Chilean Development Agency, Shell and Toyota are some of the firms involved in the development of this technology. The increase in the consumption of paper at the international level, as well as the initiative of considering tree plantations as carbon sinks -allegedly to mitigate the greenhouse effect- are the excuses for the promotion of genetic engineering in the forestry sector (see WRM Bulletin 27).

In reality Frankentrees constitute a further step forward within the large scale tree monoculture model, which is already generating extensive negative social and environmental impacts throughout the world. GE trees will substantially increase those negative effects: trees will grow faster, thus intensifying the depletion of water resources and soil nutrients and in the seek for profit more and more fertile land will be occupied by tree monocultures, depriving people of their land and livelihoods. The future looks threatening, since many answers regarding security, biodiversity conservation and technology control remain unanswered.

On March 27th the World Rainforest Movement, together with Native Forest Network, ACERCA (Action for Community and Ecology in the Regions of Central America), and RAN (Rainforest Action Network) launched an international campaign to face the development of genetically manipulated trees. The announcement was made in the framework of Biodevastation 2000, a grassroot gathering that took place in Boston, USA, from 24 to 26 March, under the motto “Resistance and Solutions to the Corporate Monopoly on Power, Food and Life”. Several topics related to biotechnology were addressed during the event, and GE trees was one of the highlights of discussions. Those interested in receiving more information about this initiative, please contact the International Secretariat of the WRM or any of the above mentioned organizations.