NGOs Call for a Ban on GM Trees
Dialogue Between GM Critics and 
Proponents at the Finnish Parliament
Press Release
The Global Ban on GM Trees campaign, launched earlier this year by three Finnish NGOs, the Union of Ecoforestry, the People's Biosafety Association and Friends of the Earth Finland visited the Finnish Parliament 1 June 2004 to present the parliamentary groups with a citizens' petition urging a ban on GM trees. The petition calls for a rejection of the plans to introduce GM trees as a means of combating global warming.

"The agreement reached at the climate negotiations in Milan to include GM trees as a tool for tackling global warming may be regarded as contradictory to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol", said Leo Stranius, chair of Friends of the Earth Finland.

"The risks posed by genetically modified trees are so great that, according to the precautionary principle, the burden of proof must lie with the developers of GM trees. Ahead of this meeting we organized a briefing on the issue, but, unfortunately, the most forceful proponents of GM once again failed to show up", lamented Hannu Hyvönen, campaign coordinator for the Union of Ecoforestry.

"The unblooming GM birch tree promoted by the Ekosäätiö foundation and Mr. Osmo Kuusi will not prevent pollen allergies, as the pollen is carried to Finland from as far away as the Baltics and even Ukraine", observed Hannes Tuohiniitty, chair of the People's Biosafety Association.

A lively debate ensued between the MPs and the NGOs at the Parliament.

"This is a precedent-setting situation, with NGOs inviting GM proponents to join the debate", said MP Heidi Hautala (Greens) referring to the presence of Mr. Kuusi, expert for the parliamentary Committee for the Future. Chair of the Environmental Committee MP Pentti Tiusanen (Left Alliance) supported the idea of the Parliament arranging a dialogue between political decision-makers and critics and proponents of GM.

Before the meeting at the Parliament House, the NGOs arranged a briefing on the risks posed by GM trees at Postitalo in the Helsinki city centre. The presentation included the screening of a video film about the side event organized by the campaign at the UN Forest Forum in Geneva last May. The Forum as well as the participating representatives of governments in Geneva were presented with the same petition as the Finnish Parliament.

More information:
Hannu Hyvönen, the Union of Ecoforestry
Hannes Tuohiniitty, the People's Biosafety Association, + 358 44-3452111
Leo Stranius, Friends of the Earth Finland, + 358 40-7547371

More information on the international petition campaign: