Credo Action

Tell the USDA: No GMO trees without public approval

Sign the petition

Tell the USDA:

"Stop the dissemination of ArborGen’s unregulated loblolly pine tree and subject future genetically engineered trees to serious risk assessment, public oversight, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s regulatory authority."

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    Tell the USDA: No GMO trees without public approval

    You’ve heard of genetically modified foods. But have you heard of genetically modified trees?

    If you haven’t, it might be because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – the government agency tasked with regulating GMOs and assessing their risks to the public and the environment – didn’t think your opinion mattered when it secretly approved the first corporate-sponsored, patented, genetically engineered tree: ArborGen’s loblolly pine. 1

    Despite well-warranted public opposition to GE trees, the USDA approved ArborGen's GE pine with absolutely no public oversight, nor any assessment of the risks it poses to the environment.

    Tell the USDA: No genetically engineered trees without public oversight and regulation.

    The USDA made this decision quietly, in total secret, in a letter it sent to ArborGen in August. Only last month did it post that letter to its website, revealing to the public for the first time its decision to not regulate ArborGen’s loblolly pine.2

    The USDA’s actions stand in stark contrast to what it did in 2013, when the same company applied to have its genetically engineered Eucalyptus tree approved. In that case, the USDA called for public comments and received a comment rate of 10,000-to-1 in opposition. But this time, the public was completely shut out of the process.

    ArborGen has kept secret the novel genes that its GE pine contains. All we know is that its loblolly pine has been engineered to have denser wood, which can have a major impact on decomposition, as well as on insects and fungi, which wildlife like birds are heavily dependent on. Seeds from these trees could travel far into natural forests and severely disrupt those ecosystems.3

    Tell the USDA: No genetically engineered trees without public oversight and regulation.

    The potential threat to natural-ecosystems from GE trees is serious, and it shouldn't be taken lightly. National parks and other public lands could be severely threatened by unregulated genetic engineering of trees. Genetically engineered trees and their genes could invade natural forests, destroy wildlife habitats, and forever change the natural landscape. These trees have the potential to interbreed with wild trees, and their disease resistance could allow them to become invasive. And once these genes are introduced into nature, it can’t be undone.4

    The USDA’s secret approval of ArborGen’s loblolly pine sets a dangerous precedent for regulation of all GMOs. When a corporation proposes to commercialize something that could disrupt whole ecosystems and irreversibly contaminate the environment, it should be strongly regulated, assessed for risks, and held up for intense public scrutiny.

    The USDA needs to hear that message loud and clear.

    Tell the USDA: No genetically engineered trees without public oversight and regulation.

    Thank you for your activism.

    1. "New Genetically Engineered Tree To Avoid Federal Oversight Completely," Center for Food Safety, January 26, 2015.

    2. "USDA letter to ArborGen regarding regulation of genetically engineered loblolly pine," August 28, 2014.

    3. Sierra Club: Genetically Engineered Trees
    4. The Campaign to Stop GE Trees