Friday, May 31, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Civil society open letter - sign on





Dear NGOs, Civil society organisations, Trade unions, Faith groups, Associations, and other organisations in Europe and worldwide.

[apologies for cross posting]


We, environment and development NGOs in Brussels, need to ask for your support.


We are at a momentous time right now in Europe concerning the policies supporting biofuels/agrofuels: the European Union (EU) is deciding on proposed legislation which could reduce the quantities of biofuels grown for Europe.

Given the threat for people, land rights, forests, pollution, hunger, and the climate caused by expansion of biofuels, there are signs for hope that the EU could change its policies and halt the further expansion of land-based biofuels for the EU.

On 20 June and 10 July two important Committees in the European Parliament will vote on the proposed legislation.  We need to increase pressure on the Parliamentarians: we aim to persuade them to vote in favour of imposing a cap on land based biofuels, and correcting the carbon accounting for land use change.  It will be a close vote since there's fierce lobbying by the industry.

We therefore ask you to support a civil society open letter to EU decision makers. 

We aim for over 200 organisations from across Europe and the world, and we want to show the strength of feeling, as well as demonstrate the level of consensus across world-wide civil society.  This open letter will be sent to all relevant MEPs, as well as published on websites and distributed to the press.

Please can you support our open letter?  Here's instructions for how to sign on:
  • Send an email to robbie.blake@foeeurope.org
  • With the Subject: Civil society open letter - sign on
  • Give the name of your organisation
  • Give the country of your organisation
  • Send your logo as an attachment.

Please do this by: Tuesday 11 June.

Note that the text of the letter is now fixed and cannot change.

Please help to spread the word by forwarding this email to relevant networks.

Many thanks for your support!

Robbie Blake
(on behalf of the biofuels coalition of NGOs in Brussels)


--   Robbie Blake  Agrofuels Campaigner    Friends of the Earth Europe  Rue d’Edimbourg 26, 1050 Brussels, Belgium  Email: robbie.blake@foeeurope.org  Tel: (+32) (0)2 893 1017  Skype: robbie.foee    http://www.foeeurope.org  http://facebook.com/FoEEurope  http://twitter.com/foeeurope    


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[biofuelwatch] Fwd: Activists brutally arrested asprotesters blockade GE tree conference





For Immediate Release                                        30 May 2013

 Activists brutally arrested as zombie "franken-tree" protesters blockade GE tree conference

A photo essay of today's event is located on Climate-Connections.org

Asheville, NC (US)-Three demonstrators were brutally arrested today at the controversial Tree Biotechnology 2013 conference.  They attempted to use GMO caution tape to wrap a bus full of conference participants headed for an upscale dinner at the Biltmore Estate. Dozens more groaning zombie "franken-tree" protesters banged pots and pans and chanted anti-genetically engineered tree slogans.

 Will Bennington, a campaigner with Global Justice Ecology Project and the Campaign to STOP GE Trees, was one of those arrested for blockading the buses. Bennington said, "We're blocking the buses because these conference attendees are on their way to dinner at the Biltmore Estate.  Built by the Vanderbilts, the Biltmore is a symbol of the wealthy and powerful, and one of the birthplaces of industrial forestry in the US, which wiped out forests from coast to coast. The tree biotechnology industry is continuing this destructive legacy.  They plan to cut down native forests and replace them with GE tree plantations grown solely for the profit of the elite at the expense of local communities and biodiversity."

Protesters are demanding a ban on the release of GE trees into the environment. South Carolina-based ArborGen, a major conference sponsor, has a request pending with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to release millions of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees annually for planting in vast plantations across the US South.

On Monday, two Asheville residents were arrested after invading the conference and disrupting the opening day. On Tuesday, hundreds of people marched through the streets and rallied outside the conference hotel as conference participants took part in a workshop on the future of forest biotechnology.  It was the largest anti-GE tree protest to date.

Wednesday, the conference organizers had planned a field trip for conference participants but it was canceled due to the threat of protests.

A local woman with Katuah Earth First!, one of those arrested today said, "Trees should not be burned for fuel - this is a false solution to climate change.  Monoculture plantations for bioenergy are already displacing Indigenous Peoples and local communities all over the world, and they will have a major impact on rural livelihoods and biodiversity here in the US South."  

She continued, "GE trees like ArborGen's highly flammable, water-intensive and invasive eucalyptus would be especially devastating to our communities in the face of drought and extreme weather due to climate change."

The Tree Biotechnology 2013 conference, taking place in Asheville from 26 May to 1 June, is the premier international conference on GE trees, organized by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). 

Contact:

Keith Brunner, Global Justice Ecology Project,keith@globaljusticeecology.org  +1.201.906.4484 (mobile)

For hi-resolution photos, please contact Orin Langelle

Langellephoto@photolangelle.org  +1.716.536.5669 (mobile)



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Thursday, May 30, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Re: End ecocide law, a way forward?



> Hi Jeremy
>
> Thanks,Brian,my husband, and I will sign up to support the ecocide
> petition, which is European and a good start
> But the problem is global,so it needs to be a matter for the United
> Nations with the authority to sanction offenders. Even then, as with
> kyoto, the main actors and polluters would at best sign up,and do little,
> or like Canada, when sanctioned, pull out.
>
> We have a Geneva Convention on the rules of war; we need something similar
> as quite simply the polluters are committing ecocide, not excluding
> indirectly damaging and shortening the lives of their fellow men .
>
> We do what we can at a local level, as bottom up helps. Behaviour breeds
> behaviour
>
> Go well.
>
> Helen and Brian Hurley
>
>
>


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[biofuelwatch] Fwd: Tell Kickstarter not to allow bioengineered organisms





Tell Kickstarter not to allow bioengineered organisms - We have one week to stop them!



Dear friends,

A synthetically engineered life form designed on a computer by a private biotech company will be sent out into the wild unless we can convince Kickstarter to stop it. It will be the first ever organism produced from Synthetic Biology (extreme genetic engineering) to be deliberately released into the environment and it will be entirely unmonitored and unregulated. It sounds like a bad science fiction plot, but it's absolutely true.

Kickstarter is a crowdsourced fundraising website with rules preventing people from using it for projects involving drugs, weapons and even sunglasses! But unless they add to these rules, a Kickstarter project to bioengineer a new type of plant will receive over $400,00 of funding on the 7th June - just over a week away- and worryingly over 6000 people who gave more than $40 will be sent bioengineered seeds in the mail to release at will. The engineered plant, a common weed engineered to glow in the dark, will be built using a controversial technology called Synthetic Biology that is so new that apparently no US regulator has the power to stop the spread. At present over 600,000 seeds will be posted to over 6000 random locations - unmonitored and unassessed.

Synthetic Biology is a form of extreme genetic engineering where artificial DNA is engineered into living things to fundamentally change their character. Nobody knows how to asses synthetic organisms for safety and until now governments and companies have refrained from releasing these organisms into the environment because they may threaten the natural world. The UN has called for caution and advisors to the US President says that none of these new organisms should be released into the wild at this time.

Kickstarter was built to help struggling artists, not give corporate biohackers with risky technologies a blank cheque to threaten our ecosystems. Let's return Kickstarter to its roots and help protect nature against this new threat of Synthetic Biology.

thanks!




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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

[biofuelwatch] End ecocide law, a way forward?





Hopefully on subject here…

A good starting point in my opinion is to create the ecocide law. 

http://www.endecocide.eu/

Does anyone see a reason not to support this?

Best, 

Jeremy



--
Did you know in the State of Nature 2013 report - 60% of UK species in decline!!
Please check out: http://www.endecocide.eu/
I believe it could change our world – for the better!



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[biofuelwatch] Industry conference in crisis amid mass protests against genetically engineered trees








Industry conference in crisis amid mass protests against genetically engineered trees

May 28, 2013.  Source: Global Justice Ecology Project

Protestors sent a clear message to the GE tree industry and its investors - expect resistance.  Photo: Langelle/photolangelle.org for GJEP
Protestors sent a clear message to the GE tree industry and its investors – expect resistance. Photo: Langelle/photolangelle.org for GJEP

Asheville, NC (US)-Hundreds of demonstrators marched on an international forest biotechnology industry conference today, demanding a ban on the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment.

The protest, the largest yet against GE trees, occurred one day after two Asheville residents were arrested while disrupting a presentation titled "Engineering Trees for the Biorefinery."

Following the arrests and the threat of protest today, the conference went on high alert. Police maintained a presence inside and outside the hotel conference center all day, participant badges were scrutinized, conference doors were locked during sessions, and hotel access restricted.

Two of the major conference sponsors, FuturaGene and ArborGen, are moving forward with plans to commercially release GE eucalyptus trees in Brazil and the US.

As protests raged outside, FuturaGene hosted a workshop on the future of forest biotechnology. Debate regarding what to do about public opposition to GE trees dominated the workshop.

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. One presenter explained the need to get the public passionate about GE trees in order to facilitate legalizing their commercial release. He gave as an example the public passion that changed laws following the Newtown, CT shooting.

Go to Climate-Connections.org for the complete story.


--
Anne Petermann
Executive Director
Global Justice Ecology Project
266 Elmwood Avenue, Suite 307
Buffalo, NY 14222

skype: annepetermann

Global Justice Ecology Project Coordinates the Campaign to Stop Genetically Engineered Trees and is the North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition.




--
Anne Petermann
Executive Director
Global Justice Ecology Project
266 Elmwood Avenue, Suite 307
Buffalo, NY 14222

phone: +1.716.931.5833
mobile: +1.802.578.0477
skype: annepetermann

Global Justice Ecology Project Coordinates the Campaign to Stop Genetically Engineered Trees and is the North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition.


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[biofuelwatch] Article about Equatorial Palm Oil in Liberia





http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/05/the-bitter-taste-of-liberias-palm-oil-plantations/ 

The Bitter Taste of Liberia's Palm Oil Plantations

Reprint |   | Print |
The land by Boegbor, a town in district four in Grand Bassa County, Liberia has been leased by the government to Equatorial Palm Oil for 50 years. Credit: Wade C.L. Williams/IPS

The land by Boegbor, a town in district four in Grand Bassa County, Liberia has been leased by the government to Equatorial Palm Oil for 50 years. Credit: Wade C.L. Williams/IPS

BOEGBOR, Liberia, May 29 2013 (IPS) - Sackie Qwemie works for Equatorial Palm Oil, the company that took his land in northwestern Liberia.

He has been working on the EPO plantation for three years because the land that he once farmed was given away in a lease to the concession company based in Grand Bassa County, one of this West African country's 15 political subdivisions.

His job is not a pleasant one, there is a taste of bitterness, but working for the company that has his land is the only way for him to survive.

"The people came, they destroyed our bush, our living. Even the creek, the water we drink – they damaged it." -- Joe Bah, chief of Boegbor.

The farmer, in his early 50s, is among the many villagers and community dwellers who have seen their land taken over by the company, and their crops bulldozed under.

"In the place I used to make my garden they came and cleared my whole bitterballs (a small species of round eggplant), my whole pepper, cassava, everything was destroyed," Qwemie tells IPS as he sits under a palava hut in Boegbor, a town in district four in Grand Bassa County.

"I had the biggest farm here; I came from the hospital and heard the news that the machine had cleared my farm. Since then I've not been on my own farm." Qwemie, however, does not know how much land he has lost.

The farmer looks weary and angry as he lays out his case, accusing the Liberian government of giving up the land to the company and ignoring the interests of the people it serves. He says this move has created serious hardship for them, as the money paid by EPO is small and cannot meet their families' needs.

"Now before I eat pepper, I have to buy it. I don't know what to say, I can't fight this company because they say the government gave the land to the company," says Qwemie.

EPO took over the Palm Bay concession area, clearing 34,398 hectares of land for the development of oil palms. The 50-year concession was negotiated and enacted into law in 2011 with the planting of the first new oil palms. It began expansion into district four in Grand Bassa County not so long ago.

This expansion has further upset the local community here, with many resisting any attempt at further expansion.

"The people came, they destroyed our bush, our living. Even the creek, the water we drink – they damaged it," says an angry Joe Bah, chief of Boegbor.

Bah and his kinsmen maintain that they were not consulted in the leasing of their land to EPO. He says the company used bulldozers to clear the land, including ancestral land and sacred sites, without any remorse or respect for their local culture.

"All this bush here – that was our cassava farm … the people have destroyed it, even our rubber trees. There is no place here for us to make a farm, (to grow food) for us to eat," he tells IPS.

Local people also accused the government of using the head of the National Traditional Council, chief Zanzan Kawar, the country's most revered traditional elder, to scare them off from claiming their rights over the land.

"When Kawar is present in any community, all the Zoe people in Grand Bassa County and elsewhere in all the other counties can be present," says Isaac Gartaryon, president of the youth in the district. The Zoes are traditional high priests who are believed to have supernatural powers and are feared by locals. People dare not speak against them for fear of the consequences.

"So they use that heavy influence … so nobody could talk," he tells IPS.

Citizens of the land who have vehemently opposed the expansion of the company have come under strong criticism from community elders who hold positions in government and are close associates of company officials, alleges Gartaryon.

"The young people, the women and chiefs were not consulted (about the expansion), so we resisted. But the National Traditional Council still maintains its position and says that as far as they are concerned, the President of the Republic of Liberia has given this land to (EPO) … and anybody (who speaks out against it) will be arrested," he says.

But EPO maintains that the land it currently occupies is the land that it was leased in negotiations with the government in 2008. The company says it is currently only operating on 13,000 hectares of the land, and has not even occupied the full territory because of the resistance by the local community.

With regard to allegations that the community was not consulted, Thomas Borshua Jr., senior accountant and administrator at EPO, said "I wouldn't say that is true. We've had numerous meetings with the town chiefs, the surrounding villages and we've talked to them.

"We are not interacting with people on an individual basis; they have their leaders that were presented to the company to speak on their behalf and those are the people the company dealt with," he explains to IPS.

Despite Borshua's assertions that the company only occupies a portion of the land, tractors can be seen moving around the concession, and the sight of newly-felled trees in areas that villagers allege are not part of the company's 34,000 hectares of land is commonplace. The local residents have vowed to fight on.

"We will resist them in the bushes and we are very serious about that," says an angry Gartaryon.

Speaking in conversation with Reuters Insider on May 17, in the United States, Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the government was taking steps to address the current land crisis.

"There's no doubt about it, that once we say the communities have rights to what's on their land. Even if we decide to negotiate concessions because they don't have the resources to put the land to use, that in effect will benefit them with housing and jobs and social benefits but they will be full participants," she had said.

Rights organisations here, such as the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) Liberia, which works to raise awareness and increase public participation in natural resources sectors, believe the government should go beyond mere words and do the right thing.

"The issue of land in Liberia is more than just a legal issue; it is matter of livelihood especially for communities living in rural parts of the country," Nora Bowier of SDI tells IPS.

"If the government is taking vast amounts of land from rural people and granting them to multinationals without ensuring or providing better livelihood alternatives, it is like taking away these people's rights to live and increasing their poverty conditions."



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[biofuelwatch] WSJ article: Pellets for Drax include wood from ancient trees in swamp forests





Please see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324082604578485491298208114.html for an article "Europe's Green-fuel Search Turns to America's Forests".  This contains some interesting information about where some of the pellets that go to Drax and, in future E.On/Ironbridge are coming from. 

E.g. [Note that Enviva is a pellet supplier for Drax and has also entered into a contract with E.On to supply Ironbridge once it has been converted (partly or fully) to biomass]:

"Still, wood from forests with trees more than 100 years old, including some from wetlands, does wind up in pellet plants, according to loggers. In recent months, foresters have clear-cut portions of two such Roanoke River areas and delivered some of the wood to Enviva's mill in Ahoskie, the loggers said.
Logger George Henerson said that earlier this year, he sold Enviva several hundred tons of hardwood that his crew clear-cut from a swamp that hadn't been logged for about 100 years."
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Re: BBC News article: Burning US trees in UK power stations-There are clean alternatives.





Hi Group members
 
Lets not forget the real concealed issues for our the long term future of our children. .  
 
The waste that leaves the chimneys at Drax ,(and that in the ash )is a cocktrail of up to 200 chemicals varying from incondensibles,to fine soot particles  that cause widespread damage to all the biodiversity (including humans )in regions locally ,perhaps, but certainly outside the Uk./or the USA/Canada etc ,who have no responsibility under KYOTO.
 
The is not just about CO2 balances and global warming due to CO2. Its more about subsidies and tax breaks arranged by the large organisations who deal in combustion through their lobbyists, to further enrich themselves and their shareholders( large financial groups mostly) with absolutely no social or moral accountability.
 
The real colateral issue  is about global pollution forced on others with no cost to the polluter. These  silent weapons of mass pollution,which are also accelerating ice melt,are causing worldwide problems for innocent neighbours. This  health damage is occasionally mentioned  by Health Ministers  who are otherwise too busy cutting the welfare budgets in the name of austerity.
 
All these colateral issues will be  swept under the carpet(like asbestos, nicotine ,pesticides,OGM  etc ) totally unnecessarily in the name of quantity beyond need. 
 
Today  there are available to science true non combustion clean energy alternatives. These are falsely accounted as relatively  too expensive in the short term?? .Why because political and business accountancy is based on loans, deferred debts etc . which  the gamblers of the finanfcial markets, regularly negotiate and trade through   banks,stock markets etc with ultimate recourse to  the IMFwho then demand cutbacks to the welfare budgets while insisting the highly paid and global businesses  pay less tax . 
 
In short financial politics has drowned out good science and common sense, which still exists in the small rural farming  communites,who live close to nature.   
 
Nature and true science does not function in this way and debts canot be negotiated . Time to think differently and act sensibly. The wind, tides  and photons are freely available daily  to provide all our needs ( in good prudent measure) while retaining the beauty and natural wealth we still have for a quality life for all. .
 
We are lucky to live in a rural area, and use solar photovoltaique ,and wind energy to provide 50% of our electricity usage. We plan to improve on this with solar thermal next year. Given, in percentage terms ,the same subsidies that wood, and  fossil fuel , burning capital investment enjoys(e.g at Drax), we could  alone or in local community networking , become totally self sufficient.. There are now available the technologies to deal with the storage of peak excesses to cover lull deficiencies in electricity,for the clean energies. .
 
The possibility of localised independence is real and means people can be masters of their own destiny.
 
That is the real fear that large global business leaders and their lackey politicians  have. . They would lose the power of control over the people.
 
This opinion is not a party political issue,but a real hope that true science will be properly used to re-create true democratic freedom with responsibility for our planet and all its biodiversity., as a clean industrial revolution to benefit our children and the whole of biodiversity on which we depend  .
 
Brian and Helen  Hurley  SW France- www.iff-riberac.fr 
 
 


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[biofuelwatch] Fw: Protesters Arrested at GE Tree Industry Conference






 

Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered (GE) Trees, Global Justice Ecology Project, Earth First!,
Dogwood Alliance, Biofuelwatch,
Global Forest Coalition, REAL Cooperative
For Immediate Release                                   27 May 2013

Protesters Arrested at Genetically Engineered Tree Conference

Asheville, NC (US)-
As the Tree Biotechnology 2013 conference kicked off early Monday, two Asheville residents were arrested after disrupting a major presentation by Belgian tree engineer Wout Boerjan entitled, "Engineering trees for the biorefinery."
 
The protestors said that if legalized, GE trees would lead to the destruction of native forests and biodiversity in the US South, and be economically devastating to rural communities. 
The talk was disrupted for 20 minutes.
 
Farmer and professor Steve Norris said, "We took dignified action today to directly confront the growing corporate control over our seeds, forests, and communities. We are sending a crystal clear message to the GE tree industry and its investors - expect resistance."
 
The bi-annual Tree Biotechnology conference, convened by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), is the premier industry and research conference on GE trees. This year's conference is being held from 26 May 26-1 June at the Asheville Marriott Renaissance hotel.
 
Anti-GE tree demonstrators from across the region have converged on Asheville for a week of action to protest the conference proceedings. They are calling attention to South Carolina-based ArborGen's pending request with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sell millions of GE eucalyptus trees across the US South.
 
"We know that GE trees are a disaster for forests and biodiversity," said Laura Sorensen, one of the demonstrators arrested on Monday.  "With predictions of worsening extreme weather in our region, the last thing we need are highly flammable and invasive plantations of water-hungry eucalyptus trees."
"As a grandmother, I see no future in this for my grandchildren," she added.
Last month, the USDA public comment period for ArborGen's GE eucalyptus was flooded with 37,580 comments opposing its legalization, with only four comments in favor - a difference of almost 99.99% to .01%.
Contact:
Keith Brunner, Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP GE Trees  +1.201.906.4484  keith@globaljusticeecology.org
 
Also see: List of Experts Available For Interview

For details on the week of events against GE trees, visit treebiotech2013.org











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[biofuelwatch] BBC News article: Burning US trees in UK power stations





Renewable energy: Burning US trees in UK power stations



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Monday, May 27, 2013

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[biofuelwatch] Fw: Opponents of GE trees join March Against Monsanto






Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered (GE) Trees, Global Justice Ecology Project, Earth First!,
Dogwood Alliance, Biofuelwatch,
Global Forest Coalition, REAL Cooperative
For Immediate Release                                   25 May 2013

Opponents of Genetically Engineered Trees (GE)  
join March Against Monsanto

Organizations gear up for
week-long protests and events against GE trees


Asheville, NC (US)-Groups and participants from the Campaign to STOP GE Trees rallied and marched in today's March Against Monsanto in Asheville, which drew over 1000 people.  Millions of people in hundreds of cities internationally protested the GMO food and chemical giant, Monsanto, condemning their unethical and dangerous practices.
 
Anti-GE tree demonstrators have converged in Asheville to confront the bi-annual Tree Biotechnology conference of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) that starts tomorrow and runs through Saturday, 1 June.  ArborGen, one of the sponsors of the IUFRO conference, wants to commercially sell millions of GE eucalyptus trees in seven southern states from South Carolina to Texas.

Thomas Llewellyn, who helped organize the Asheville March Against Monsanto, spoke to the thousand plus crowd before the march, stating, "It's important to make the connection between companies like Monsanto with their GMO food and ArborGen and their GE trees.  When you look into it a little farther you can see that many Monsanto employees have gone to ArborGen and Monsanto was even an early partner in the venture that became ArborGen."  Llewellyn continued, "Our food supply has been threatened with genetic contamination for a long time but we have a chance to stop these GE trees before it's too late."

Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees also addressed the crowd prior to the march, "The US South is on the front lines of the fight to stop genetically engineered trees.  Companies like ArborGen want to see GE eucalyptus and other trees in vast plantations across the South, but this is still one fight we can win.  GE trees have not yet been legalized, so we can still stop them.  And if we stop them here, we can stop the disaster of GE trees from being exported all over the world."

ArborGen claims GE trees can be used for climate change mitigation. The groups protesting the IUFRO conference say GE trees are a false solution to climate change and will actually worsen it.

Protests are planned throughout the upcoming week against the IUFRO Tree Biotechnology conference. Educational events are also scheduled that will discuss the dangers of GE trees, biomass electricity and other forms of extreme energy false solutions including nuclear power, fracking, tar sands and coal mining.

Contact:
Scot Quaranda, Campaign Director, Dogwood Alliance, scot@dogwoodalliance.org, +1.828.242.3596

For details on the week of events against GE trees, visit treebiotech2013.org
 










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