NO to Genetic Engineering in Our Forests!

US DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

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Researchers want approval from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to plant genetically engineered (GE or genetically modified) trees in our forests. This would unleash a massive, irreversible experiment with unforeseeable consequences for decades or even centuries.

We cannot let this go ahead. Tell the USDA to reject GE trees.

The release of these GE American chestnut trees into the wild, if approved by the US government, would set many dangerous precedents, with no long-term risk assessments.

If approved, it would be the first GE forest tree approved for unrestricted planting in North America, and the first-ever genetically modified organism (GMO) designed to spread into ecosystems, opening the floodgates to other GE trees.

Wild trees cannot be replaced by GE facsimiles. Trees live many years and have deeply intertwined relationships with other trees, insects, songbirds and wildlife. Tragically, this experiment also threatens to contaminate the wild American chestnuts that still grow in the forests. Wild American chestnuts could be lost forever.

We need to protect our environment, not tamper with the genetic makeup of trees.

Please sign here to tell the US Department of Agriculture to reject this dangerous experiment with our forests – we need to draw the line right here.


To: US DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
From: [Your Name]

Dear Ms. Eck,
US researchers are seeking government approval to legalize the widespread release of unproven genetically engineered (GE) trees into forests. This would be a giant open-air experiment. The risks are huge.

If approved, these trees, GE American chestnuts, will spread their GE pollen and seeds freely. This would be the first-ever GE tree approved in the US, opening the floodgates to others.

It would also be the first-ever intentional release of a fertile genetically modified organism (GMO) into wild ecosystems, opening the door to other uncontrollable GMO releases.

American chestnut trees are also native to Ontario in Canada, and the range for chestnuts is projected to spread further into Eastern Canada as our climate changes.

For years, companies and researchers have sought approval to use GE trees in industrial timber plantations, but public opposition has stopped them. Now they are promoting this GE tree for “forest restoration” to try to win public approval of GE trees.

Engineers think they can (re)create nature in the lab, but wild American chestnuts, or any species, cannot be replaced by with GE facsimiles. This is not restoration, but dangerous experimentation.

This experiment would threaten wild American chestnuts with contamination from GE chestnut pollen. Decades of progress to restore wild American chestnut trees would be lost.

There are no long-term risk assessments of this scheme and scientists warn such assessments are not possible. American chestnuts can live hundreds of years and have deeply intertwined relationships with other trees, and with insects, songbirds and other wildlife.

In a violation of indigenous sovereignty, tribes and First Nations would have no ability to keep these GE trees out of their territories. Additionally, any town or county that has or wants “GMO-free” status would have the same problem.

Farmers who are growing organic and non-GMO chestnuts are also threatened. What happens if chestnut orchards are contaminated by GE chestnut pollen? Chestnut farmers could lose their livelihoods.

Forests are already threatened by unsustainable logging practices, invasive species and introduced pests and pathogens, urban sprawl, and the escalating impacts of climate change. We must solve the underlying causes of forest demise, not develop risky genetically engineered trees.

I join individuals and organizations across the world in demanding the rejection of this and all genetically engineered trees. We cannot allow this kind of dangerous experimentation with our forests.

You can find detailed information about these threats in the white paper Biotechnology for Forest Health? The Test Case of the Genetically Engineered American Chestnut

Sincerely,​