PO Box 13402
Wellington, New Zealand

GE-Free New Zealand

in food and environment (RAGE Inc.)


GE trees unknown irreversible impacts threaten fragile ecosystems.


The latest Scion Annual report (June 2022) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA NZ) on the GE pine trees that have been engineered for traits including altered plant growth/biomass, reproductive development, herbicide tolerance, biomass utilisation, wood density, and wood dimensional stability confirms that there was no environmental impact research conducted. [1]

The lack of research on the effects that herbicides, lignin changes and altered reproductive traits would have on soils, indigenous flora and fauna and also on established pine plantations, is highly concerning. New Zealand currently relies on the exports of plantation pine trees to support the economy. Any threat to the forestry industry from genetically engineered trees would cause serious problems.

The Scion report found that the GE pine trees produced reproductive structures. When GE trees died, this was put down to “drought” and replaced but no further examination was conducted to see if there were other reasons for the death of the trees. Scientific procedures are therefore not being carried out.
“The lack of investigation into the deaths of the GE trees will confound any data collection and replacement will not inform the outcome or give a true of the level of problems,” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ.

The Scion report also details collaborative discussions with researchers from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) regarding GE pine trees.
FSC is a non-profit organisation based in Germany that operates a global market-based certification program for forest products. [2] It is currently reconsidering its 27-year ban on GE trees at its general assembly meeting on October 9-14 in Bali, Indonesia.

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) report [3] exposes the cascading effects regarding genetically engineered tree release around the world. The CBAN report notes that the FSC and other so-called "sustainable forest management" organizations that certify products according to their own social and environmental standards, are facing pressure from major corporations and university biotechnology researchers to allow GE trees in their certification programs.

GE Free NZ supports the comments made in the CBAN report that genetically engineered trees would perpetuate environmentally and socially destructive industrial plantation production, contributing to the climate crisis.

“GE trees are not a climate solution, as genetically engineered trees would add unnecessary risks to indigenous and exotic forests, with unknown irreversible impacts,” said Claire Bleakley “There is a lack of data on the effect these trees will have on the fragile ecosystems, which include soils, native vegetation, insects and birds. Once GE contamination in forests begins, it cannot be stopped. The FSC must ensure that it preserves the current prohibition on GE trees.”

[1] ERMA 200479 Scion Pine Trees Annual Report https://www.epa.govt.nz/assets/FileAPI/hsno-ar/ERMA200479/2022-Scion-Pine-Trees-Anual-Report.pdf and https://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/Uploads/2022-Scion-Pine-Trees-Anual-Report.pdf
[2] Forest Stewardship Council https://fsc.org/en
[3]The Global Status of Genetically Engineered Tree Development A Growing Threat (2022) CBAN report https://stopgetrees.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/The-Global-Status-of-Genetically-Engineered-Tree-Development-EN.pdf

Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731
Elvira Dommisse 021 0575 123