[Orange_County_Permaculture] YOU TUBE /Documentary- A Silent Forest. The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees- Full Movie

Wesley Roe and Santa Barbara Permaculture Network lakinroe at silcom.com
Fri Mar 23 09:01:08 PDT 2012

YOU TUBE /Documentary- A Silent Forest. The Growing Threat, Genetically 
Engineered Trees- Full Movie
To really understand GMO and the need for the GMO ballot initiative 
signatures see this movie


The Growing Threat of Genetically Engineered Trees (GE/GMO)

This award winning documentary film explores the growing global threat 
of genetically engineered trees to our environment and to human health. 
The film features renowned geneticist and host of PBS' The Nature of 
Things David Suzuki, who explores the unknown and possibly disastrous 
consequences of improperly tested GE methods. Many scientists and 
activists are interviewed in the film, which serves as an effective and 
succinct tool for understanding the complex issue of GE trees. The film 
includes the testimony of many experts on the subject and serves as a 
valuable tool to inform students and those interested in environmental 
issues. The film has been well used in public forums, government as well 
as college and high school classrooms.
The film includes an interview with Percy Schmeiser, who lost the rights 
to his own crops to Monsanto, when Monsanto seeds contaminated his 
fields. As Schmeiser says in the film:

"It doesn't matter how it gets there, destroying your crop. All of your 
crop, becomes Monsanto's ownership and they can lay a lawsuit on top of 
it against you. Even if the contamination rate is 1%, all your other 99% 
of your crop goes to Monsanto. And that's what startled the world, how 
farmers can lose their rights overnight, an organic farmer can lose his 
seeds and his rights overnight, and get subject to a lawsuit."

The film shows how farmers like Schmeiser and indigenous people may lose 
their way of life and belongings in the face of new biotech friendly 
science and legislation. A Silent Forest won first place in the 
EarthVision Environmental Film Festival and a First Place in the Wild 
and Scenic Environmental Film Festival. The film is created by 
award-winning director Ed Schehl who has been making and promoting 
documentaries on environmentalism and social justice for 15 years. As 
new crucial forms of legislation and urgent needs for action arise, this 
film makes information available to the general public.

Review of "A Silent Forest: The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered 

by Sam Burcher

A film that exposes the growing global threat of genetically modified 
trees and the startling impact of genetic engineering on biodiversity.


David Suzuki of David Suzuki Foundation is a geneticist who has enjoyed 
a twenty-five year career in science that includes heading the largest 
genetics laboratory in Canada. He agreed to narrate A Silent Forest 
because he is deeply concerned about the unseemly haste in applying 
ideas from genetic engineering to the real world. He believes that it is 
far too early to put genetically modified (GM) traits into medicines, 
and foods, or in our fields.

DNA taken from one species and inserted into another species, is 
horizontal gene transfer, and is the basis of genetic engineering. 
Suzuki is adamant that it is simply bad science for the pro-GM lobby to 
imply that horizontal gene transfer is the same process as the 
fundamental exchange of male and female genes, which is known as 
vertical inheritance.


This is the favoured theory used by genetic engineers to explain the 
process of artificial selection, and is, according to Suzuki, "a 
caricature of misrepresentation." In nature, genes function within the 
context of an entire genome, and within a whole organism. (See: Living 
with the Fluid Genome)

Genetic engineering alters the context in which the gene is found. It's 
new and complex, and yields unexplained results. Suzuki's example is to 
take the singer Bono out of his band U2, and putting him into the New 
York Philharmonic Orchestra. There would be sound, but there is no way 
of predicting how precise, or what the sum total of the activity would be.


Genetically modified trees are not science fiction, Suzuki says. There 
are hundreds and possibly thousands of GM tree test plots all over the 
world. (See: UN Caution Against GM trees). GM DNA is inserted into the 
embryos of plants usually using a bacterium or virus. These genes would 
be extracted from an unrelated organism, whose transfer could never 
happen naturally, or, by hybridisation.

The four design parameters of GM trees:

Sterile trees - produce no nuts, fruits, seeds, flowers, or pollen. This 
drastic intervention, it is hoped, will stop the cross contamination of 
native trees and other species, via insects, and wind blown pollination.
Herbicide resistant trees - can be sprayed with company herbicide and 
survive, but many other plants and species die.
Low lignin trees - has had half it's strength removed. It grows faster, 
and is cheaper and easier for the paper industry to pulp. But it is 
vulnerable to environmental stresses such as high winds. Once fallen, it 
decomposes quicker, returning C02 to the atmosphere at an accelerated 
Total tree a pesticide - this tree is a systemic toxin that kills all 
insects that feed on it, with no specific target, and no limit as to 
what is harmed.

Sterility bred into plants and trees is no guarantee that 
cross-pollination stops happening. One hundred percent sterility is 
impossible, as the urge to reproduce is powerful. This technology can 
never be reliable; sterility can be spread into food crops and into 
native forests. Forests that cannot sustain insects and animals through 
its' harvest, are not forest at all.

Herbicide resistance is also problematic. The number one herbicide in 
the US is Monsanto's Roundup Ready. When liberally and/or aerially 
sprayed on GM crops and trees many plants in its path are killed, but so 
are earthworms and small mammals. Fish, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates 
are particularly sensitive to it. Roundup contains Glyphosate, a 
chemical known to cause birth defects and allergic effects (See: 
Glyphosate toxic and Roundup worse)

In California, there has been an increase of illness in human outdoor 
workers who are using Roundup. Its effects on wildlife appear to be as 
lethal as DDT, which was considered an innovative chemical for pest 
control, until songbirds and eagles started to disappear. Denmark has 
had the foresight to ban glyphosate when it was found in drinking water.

Infecting the entire system of a tree with a toxin also harms many 
species. Monica Moore of PAN (Pesticide Action Network) points out that 
the pesticide gene is always "on" and expressing itself, and it cannot 
be turned off. She cautions that the insects that develop resistance to 
Bt, select similar insects, and produce superbugs. The film cites ISIS 
paper Superbugs and Anthrax genes, as a further warning of the potential 
hazards of Bt recombining with other bacteria genes in the soil.


Dr Ignacio Chapela of Berkeley University says that Bt trees are a crazy 
idea. Trees have long life cycles, from between 50-100 years, and 
longer. Therefore putting toxins into every cell will affect insects and 
organisms for a very long time. Bt flows through the soil via the roots 
of GM trees (or GM corn) into the soil. This alters the microbial 
composition of the soil. From the soil it can leach into ground water 
and surface water. Where GM corn is grown, up to 5 times the safe limit 
of bt toxin is found in groundwater.

Dr Maewan Ho (ISIS), on her lecture tour of the Philippines at the end 
of 2005, found that farmers exposed to Bt crops in 2003 are still 
battling with illnesses. (See: 
http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GMBanLongOverdue.php). Further illnesses in farm 
workers and handlers of Bt cotton, and mass deaths among sheep grazing 
in Bt cotton fields have now turned up in India.


Percy Schmeiser features in the film and explains how Monsanto used him 
as a test case (Monsanto vs. Schmeiser), to gauge the legal implications 
of GM contamination. After two and a half weeks of trial, the judge 
ruled that it did not matter how GM particles got into his fields, e.g. 
by wind, buds, insects, passing truck. If even one percent of 
Schmiesers' crop was contaminated by GM material, then it becomes the 
property of the corporation.

The "one gene, one protein" hypothesis automatically assumes ownership 
on behalf of the corporation who has made the GM plant, tree, or seed, 
and whatever it comes into contact with and contaminates. One gene 
ownership is a dangerous premise with the potential to control our 
entire natural environment. This includes parks, and wildernesses, and 
represents the privitization of life itself. In theory pollen drift from 
a GM test plot in Michigan could contaminate all the trees in North America.


GM tree plantations are targeted at locations where labour and land is 
cheap. In countries such as Chile and Brazil an increasing amount of 
precious land and water is given over to GM plantations that destroy 
self-sufficient communities and ruin the lives of indigenous and rural 
people. (See "UN Caution over GM trees") No serious consideration is 
given to the effects of GM trees on communities or ecosystems.

Alternative methods of paper production must be developed in order to 
eliminate the need for forest-based paper manufacturing. There are many 
examples of strong natural crops such as hemp from which paper could be 
made. Ethical choices by consumers can influence industry in this 
direction. A great deal of savings on paper use in advertising and 
packaging can also be made.

David Suzuki concludes his narration by saying that most of our current 
ideas involving biotechnology are going to turn out to be wrong. In any 
revolutionary areas, many ideas are proved wrong, and this is how 
progress is made. The rush to commercialise GM trees is absolutely 
dangerous because we haven't a clue what the long-term implications of 
our manipulations will be.

You can order the "A Silent Forest" video from: www.CreateSpace.com

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