Stop GE Trees Campaign seeks clarification of FSC’s position on GM trees

Following FSC-Watch’s post questioning FSC’s position on genetically modified trees, (and an article in the World Rainforest Movement Bulletin), the Stop GE Trees Campaign has written to Heiko Liedeker requesting clarification. Copies of the letter have also been sent to FSC’s Board and to Andre de Freitas, FSC’s Head of Policy and Standards. (I wrote to de Freitas on 23 August 2007, requesting a clarification of FSC’s position on GM trees. De Freitas did not reply.)

FSC-Watch looks forward to posting Liedeker’s reply.

Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2007
To: Heiko Liedeker – h.liedeker (AT)
From: Orin Langelle – langelle (AT)
Subject: FSC Clarification on GE/GM Trees Request
Cc: Andre de Freitas – a.freitas (AT),
Grant Rosoman – grant.rosoman (AT),
Eric Palola – PALOLA (AT),
Roberto Waack – roberto (AT),
Chris van der Goot – Chrisvdgoot (AT),
Martha Núñez – marthan (AT),
Mario Abreu – Mario.Abreu (AT),
Chris van Dam – cvandam (AT),
Alan Knight – alan.knight (AT),
Cristian Vallejos – crisvallejos (AT)

Dear Mr. Liedeker,

The STOP GE Trees Campaign seeks clarification of FSC’s position regarding genetically engineered/genetically modified trees.

Criterion 6.8 is clear: “Use of genetically modified organisms shall be prohibited”. However, on 25 June 2007, FSC’s Andre de Freitas wrote to Anne Petermann (of the Global Justice Ecology Project), stating that FSC’s policy on GM trees “includes their prohibition in FSC certified forests”.

Freitas’ statement and other FSC’s policies and standards amount to a watering down of Criterion 6.8, by allowing certified companies to use GM trees, provided that they don’t plant them in FSC certified areas.

We would be grateful if you could answer the following questions:

1) What is FSC’s policy on GM trees? As you are aware, in June 1999, FSC’s General Assembly approved a motion to complete an FSC Policy on GMOs: “This policy should address among other things the Precautionary Principle. A draft of such clarification and policy should be submitted to the membership for review and comment within 6 months.”

Has FSC completed a Policy on GMOs? If so, could you please send a copy. If FSC has not yet produced a Policy on GMOs, could you please explain why not.

2) In 2000, FSC produced an “Interpretation on GMOs”, which states that “The use of GMOs is prohibited in certified forests, and would normally constitute a major failure of Principle 6.” Could you please explain the use of the word “normally” in this sentence. Under what circumstances could the use of GMOs not constitute a major failure of Principle 6?

3) FSC’s “Partial Certification Policy” states that a certified company can plant GM trees provided they are not in the area certified and that there are not too many of the GM trees. A company carrying out research into GM trees (including field trials) can simply exclude the area planted with GM trees from the certified area and yet still receive an FSC certificate. But the only purpose of a company spending money on GM tree research is to use GM trees, which would presumably put the company in breach of Criterion 1.6 (“Forest managers shall demonstrate a long-term commitment to adhere to the FSC Principles and Criteria”). Has any company ever failed an FSC assessment because it is planting GM trees? Has any company ever failed an FSC assessment because it is carrying out research into GM trees?

4) Could you please explain how FSC’s “Plantations Review” Policy Working Group dealt with the question of GM trees. And whether the Technical Working Group proposes to address this issue, and if so how.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please consider your response to be on-the-record.

Yours sincerely,

STOP GE Trees Campaign

Orin Langelle

STOP GE Trees Campaign (International and North America)
The STOP Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign is a Program of Global Justice Ecology Project
P.O. Box 412
Hinesburg, VT 05461 U.S.
+1.802.482.2689 ph/fax
+1.802.578.6980 mobile
mailto:langelle (AT)


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