Previously known as Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics PSRGNZ - Charitable Trust
As required under the new 2005 Charities Act, PSGR has reregistered as a charitable trust.

11 August 2015  


Ministry for Primary Industries

PO Box 2526



For attention:  Stuart Miller - Spatial, Forestry and Land Management


The proposed National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) 

In this submission, we refer to questionable and conflicting legal aspects, and those sections of the NES-PF that call for a reduction or loss of consent oversight to local authorities, in particular where it involves consent on the release into the environment of trees that have undergone DNA manipulation (NES-PF 6.4; pp 64, 82).  Such authority must remain with local authorities elected to meet the requirements of their local community, industries, forest owners, farmers, non-governmental organisations, iwi involved in managing unique local environments; in fact, any person or organisation with a vested interest in protecting an environment.

It is appreciated that consistent standards can aid in the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.  What is not appreciated are the decisions made by central regulatory authorities that substantially support industry without meeting any duty of care or the wishes of communities. 

The New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has admitted in recent correspondence in relation to the herbicide glyphosate that it does not have the capacity to operate post-approval controls on the matters that it approves using its powers under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO).  Such an admitted absence of post-approval controls means that the purpose and intent of that Act is at hazard of not being met following EPA approvals being given.

Further, the funding and competencies in EPA are admitted to be inadequate for undertaking in-depth enquiries into an application.  It admits that it is therefore reliant in large part upon an applicant's disclosures and references and/or upon similar approvals having been made by other overseas recognised authorities with questionable trustworthiness detailed in footnote one.[1]

Thus the EPA cog in the New Zealand machinery of government is missing some important teeth that should be available to protect New Zealand; that is, EPA may reasonably be regarded as 'false armour'.

That factor is arguably a relevant consideration when central government considers approaching and formulating a national policy statement or national environmental standard like NES-PF.  Was this approach made?

Thus, it is our advised opinion that the essence of the matter is that government appears to have approached and formulated its proposed NES-PF in a manner that is likely to by-pass and therefore be in conflict with the purpose and intent of the HSNO Act 1996.  This effectively by-passed effective administration of that Act because it assumes that NES-PF can by-pass the scrutiny that would otherwise be required by that Act.

EPA's apparent ineffective administration of the glyphosate matter is arguably proof that EPA is not competent - of its own admission in recent correspondence - to administer its powers in the public interest; or administer its powers in such a way as to apply the precautionary principle[2]; and/or is unable to assert its restrictive powers even in cases of a high probability of harm - the legal test for an action in Tort; e.g. the glyphosate matter or the current Kiwifruit group action on PSA.

The interests of the New Zealand public and safety requires lawful and effective government.

We agree New Zealanders are practical environmentalists.  Because of this they want to be able to protect their land, their livelihoods, and their environment, especially from the consequences of the release into the environment of transgenic plants.  The strength of local supervision of this contentious issue, in the best interests of all concerned, reinforces buyers’ confidence. 

The cost to New Zealand of allowing the release into the environment of transgenic organisms cannot be measured in dollars and cents, or in making the process easy.  As had been shown overseas, any release would, in the short- and long-term, create unmanageable, detrimental and irreversible consequences.

Plantation forestry is New Zealand’s third biggest export industry.  It is a significant employer for many regional economies.  Northland has moved to protect itself by including a precautionary statement in its Regional Policy Statement.  The Environment Court agreed it had this right.[i]  Bay of Plenty Regional Council also has a precautionary statement supported by the Environment Court.[ii]  Auckland and Hawkes Bay are working to make similar provisions.  Other local authorities are also moving towards having more local say on this issue.

Contamination by novel DNA inserted into pine trees would also potentially impact on wilding pines (NES-PF 3.5.3).

We urge that genetic engineering / modification technology and its products should not be included in the proposed National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF).

1 How we define DNA manipulation

In this submission we use transgenic to represent organisms that are the result of genetic engineering or genetic modification technologies; that is, novel organisms that are not found in nature. 

Biotechnology is used interchangeably with the preceding terms when in fact transgenic technologies are only a very small part of biotechnology.  Whereas biotechnology has added much of value to our agricultural and scientific heritage, the experimental approach to evaluating the effects of the aforementioned technologies and questionable decisions on releases has proven novel organisms released into the environment lead to contamination by previously unknown transgenic organisms.  Such contamination is inevitable and irreversible.

Variations of genetic engineering technology - and indeed nanotechnology and collectively what are called New Breeding Technologies, and more – are used in forestry tree development experimentation.  

Genetic use restriction technology (GURT) is terminator technology that is rejected internationally.  Governments involved in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) established and maintain an international moratorium on Terminator technology, with only Australia, Canada, the US and New Zealand withholding support. 

Decision V/5, III, 23 "Recommends that, in the current absence of reliable data on genetic use restriction technologies, without which there is an inadequate basis on which to assess their potential risks, and in accordance with the precautionary approach, products incorporating such technologies should not be approved by Parties for field testing until appropriate scientific data can justify such testing, and for commercial use until appropriate, authorized and strictly controlled scientific assessments with regard to, inter alia, their ecological and socio-economic impacts and any adverse effects for biological diversity, food security and human health have been carried out in a transparent manner and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated."

Despite obvious strength of global caution about the technology, the New Zealand Forest Research Institute at Rotorua trading as Scion has experimented with this technology (see more in section 3.1 to follow). 

Where gene stacking is used – introducing multiple novel traits into a new host – it cannot be predicted how stable each gene will be, or how predictable or stable the development of the combination of genes will be.

Despite decades of study, the complex inter-relationships between organisms are genetically determined naturally in ways about which we have little knowledge.  Introduced genes have proven to be unpredictable.  Unforeseen traits can develop and irretrievably be passed on to future generations and scattered in the open environment. 

NB A register of transgenic contamination can be found on

2 Maintaining standards of safety

Forests are vital to the world's ecological, social, cultural and economic well-being.  Intensively managed, highly productive forestry incorporating the most advanced methods for tree breeding, has tremendous potential for improvements in quality and standards.  New Zealand has an established track-record for doing just that.  To include deployment of transgenic trees in plantation forests would pose potential irreversible harms to the environment that are simply not acceptable at current levels of understand of the risks involved. 

As acknowledged above, consistent standards can aid in the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.  What is not acceptable to the general public or to a substantial body of respected experts in relevant fields are the ‘rubber stamp’ decisions made by regulatory authorities which substantially support industry without meeting full duty of care of communities.  New Zealand’s Environment Court has substantiated the public’s right to protect their own environment for control of the use of transgenic organisms through regional policy statements and plans.  Central decisions have shown they do not meet that right.

3 The impact of transgenic organisms

The development of such technologies has led to novel trees being widely planted in open trials and in plantations in China, North America, Australia, Europe and India and, to a lesser extent, South America and Africa.  Novel tree species include Populus (about 47% of experiments), Pinus (19%), Eucalyptus (7%), Spruce (picea), Ulmus, Larix, Casuarina, Betula, Liquidamber and others.  Among the traits addressed are herbicide resistance, lignin content and trees that produce sterile seeds.

It is recognised that in some countries record keeping and monitoring of plantations are inadequate and there are plantations where no monitoring at all is carried out.  This is particularly reported as happening in China.[iii] 

New Zealand authorities have also shown neglect in monitoring the likes of the 2001 transgenic tamarillos trials in Northland and Scion’s experiments near Rotorua (see Section 5).

Novel trees can impact on local flora and fauna in ways that cannot be adequately predicted.  Pollen is in the order of 10 to 100 microns or smaller in size.  Once in the atmosphere, it can travel vast distances, riding thermals and wind.  A study undertaken in India established that pollen from pine trees travelled over 600 kilometres (Singh et al, 1993).  The destinations of novel, introduced DNA would be untraceable and irretrievable.

Transgenic traits tend to be unstable.  They can break down, revert to flower-development, and spread transgenes to native trees.  They could create pollen that poisons bees and other pollinators as well as causing potential harm to human beings.  It would need a failure rate of only part of a percent for transgenes to contaminate other trees, potentially at large distances, in ways that could not easily be monitored.  Even if totally sterile, terminator trees can spread by asexual means.  The genes can spread horizontally to soil bacteria, fungi and other organisms in the extensive root system of the forest trees, which in turn could have unpredictable impacts on the soil biota and fertility.[iv]  There is the potential, however slight, that terminator genes could spread horizontally to other forest trees, also making those infertile, and in turn the potential to devastate entire plantations over huge areas.

Preventing sexual reproduction radically reduces genetic recombination, which in nature generates genetic diversity and evolutionary novelty.[v]  Trees developed using ‘terminator technology’ claimed not to flower and fruit cannot provide food for the insects, birds and mammals that feed on pollen, nectar, seed and fruit.  Thus local flora could lose the variety of pollinating insects normally attracted to an area.  This would inevitably have huge impacts on biodiversity, particularly in large areas of monoculture forests.  Any monoculture crop is known to adversely affect the diversity of flora and fauna in an area and impact on local agricultural and horticultural industries. The perceived benefits of such novel trees are claimed as, for example:  easier pulping methods and reduced use of chemicals for the timber industry; pest and disease resistance; phyto-remediation of mercury in soil; secondary compounds to pharmaceuticals; and the potential to withstand extreme environmental conditions such as drought, heat and cold.  Developing and testing of these traits could require years of biological and environmental assessment before commercialisation is practical, and along the way pose substantial risks.

Plantations of transgenic trees would inevitably and irreversibly put at risk native flora and fauna.  Most commercial species of trees grow in the region of 30 years to attain commercial value, but trees can live for centuries.  This can evolve the spread of their seeds and pollen over great distances and time periods. 

3.1 ‘Terminator’ trees

The US Department of Agriculture and the Delta & Pine Land Company developed terminator technology; novel trees claimed to produce sterile seeds.  Terminator technology has attracted a global moratorium because of the unacceptable risks involved (see Section 1).

There are risks of transmission of the terminator trait to cultivated or to wild plants, and the undermining of food security.  This can result from the dispersal or gene flow of pollen and seeds from forest trees measured potentially in hundreds or thousands of kilometres.  Once released, transgenes from transgenic trees cannot be contained and pose serious threats to forest ecosystems and plantations of other forest tree varieties. 

In terminator trees, anti-sense genes or small regulatory RNA prevent active gene products from being formed.  Also employed is a kind of genetic abortion using a ‘suicide’ gene.  This could be the barnase ribonuclease gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus amylolquefaciens, which is controlled by a promoter specific to floral or pollen development.  Once activated, the gene product kills the cells in which the gene is expressed.  The ablation toxins used in creating sterile trees, for example barnase ribonuclease, have proved toxic to rats’ kidneys; and barnase was cytotoxic in mice and human cell lines. 

Scientists at Sopanen University, Finland, have studied the control of flowering in silver birch trees, using a flower specific birch promoter gene, BpMADS1, to drive the barnase gene.  They found that floral cell ablation prevented flowering, but that this had side effects to leaves and branching which may have been a pleiotropic effect of the gene insertion. 

Pleiotropic effects seen may extend into areas not yet detected; for example, we have little knowledge of how these effects would affect soil bacteria.

3.2. Wilding pines (3.5.3)

Wilding pines are invasive, aggressive colonisers, and a threat to biodiversity, farm productivity, and landscape values.  They create adverse economic and environmental consequences. 

While the Wilding Spread Risk Calculator[vi] highlights problems and potential controls for new afforestation, the simple fact is that the spreading of pollen or seed cannot be contained.  Even a fraction of one percent of pollen or seed escaping will spread novel DNA irretrievably into the New Zealand environment, potentially long distances. 


What is vital to recognise is that New Zealand’s forests of Pinus radiata have been developed over many decades using highly efficient, selective breeding.  The returns are a major export earner.

Ninety percent of New Zealand’s plantation forests grow Pinus radiata.[vii]  The other nine main wilding species growing in this country are:  Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga species); Bishop Pine (Pinus muricata); Corsican Pine (Pinus nigra); Dwarf Mountain Pine (Pinus mugo); Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta); Maritime Pine (Pinus pinaster); Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa); Scot’s Pine (Pinus sylvestris); and European Larch (Larix decidua).[viii]  Varieties of pinus, picea and larix have been genetically manipulated. 

Scion’s Application to plant Pinus radiata with a number of engineered traits - Applications GMF000032, GMF000033, GMF000034, GMF000035, GMF000036, GMF000037, GMF000038, and GMF000039 - were all approved, including pine trees engineered with ‘terminator’ technology and herbicide-resistance. 

Transgenic traits are likely to be unstable and the variants of terminator technology offer no absolute guarantee of sterility.  The traits can break down and the trees revert to flowering.  Trees that do not flower and fruit cannot provide food for the organisms that feed on pollen, nectar, seed and fruit; thus, essential pollinating insects may not be available.  Such conditions would affect horticulturalists, beekeepers, other crop growers, and pasture grasses so essential to agriculture.   Sterile radiata pine monocultures may be more susceptible to disease.[ix]

The New Zealand Forest Research Institute at Rotorua says security measures to stop cross-pollination include a buffer zone around the novel pine trees.  One study found “long-distance pine pollen remains viable even after meso-scale transport and that the escape of GM transgenes into less-managed forest ecosystems is a certainty that cannot be reversed.”[x]  As mentioned above, pollen from pine trees has been shown to travel over 600 kilometres (Singh et al, 1993).  In New Zealand, it is acknowledged that “pollen (and therefore, gene) flow from pines can be copious, and pine pollen has been known to travel very large distances and remain viable.”[xi] 

Warren and Forham established that conventional Pinus radiata seeds can be viable “at least up to twenty-four years.” [xii]  A mature cone produces winged seeds that are readily dispersed.[xiii]  Wind-blown seeds can be widely distributed and readily take root in a range of soils to produce wilding pines, potentially novel wilding pines.  It would need a failure rate of only a part of a percent for transgenes in pollen to contaminate other trees, potentially at great distances, in ways that could not easily be monitored.  Novel wilding pines are a very real possibility in New Zealand.

3.3 Trees resistant to glyphosate or other herbicides

Some 80 percent of transgenic crops have been developed for resistance to copious applications of glyphosate.  In the US, herbicide-tolerant transgenic crops have almost doubled the use of herbicides.  The result is that substantial numbers of weed species have become herbicide-resistant, in some cases being resistant to multiple herbicides.  These weeds are aggressive and invasive.[xiv]  As of the end of 2014, there were 32 weed species globally registered as resistant to glyphosate, the majority in the United States where a significant number of transgenic crops are grown.[xv]

In December 2012, the Foundation for Arable Research confirmed New Zealand’s first case of glyphosate-resistant ryegrass in a Marlborough vineyard and blamed frequent applications of that herbicide as the cause.[xvi] [xvii]  Four further cases of glyphosate-resistant ryegrass have been identified in Marlborough vineyards and weeds surviving glyphosate treatment are reported nation-wide.[xviii]

Trees resistant to glyphosate or other herbicides potentially carry the same risks of contamination to other plants.

  1. Traditional forestry biotechnology is less costly and requires less regulation

Transgenic food crops have led to super bugs and pesticide-resistant super-weeds.  It is illogical to assume transgenic forests would be free of similar results.  There are scientists who state that genetically altered trees are even more environmentally damaging than transgenic food crops.

If released on a large scale, there is no way to stop novel DNA from cross contaminating non-engineered pines. This is deliberate, irreversible and irresponsible contamination of the environment with unknown and possibly devastating consequences.  Forest ecosystems are far from well understood, and the introduction of trees with genes with modified wood characteristics could have all manner of negative impacts on soils, fungi, insects, wildlife, songbirds, and public health - all for short term commercial profit.

Any safety assessment framework for forestry must acknowledge the diversity of existing forests and recognize the benefits of multiple uses of forests that conserve diversity.[xix]

The 2008 Review of the Forty-Nine Recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification[xx] - released by Sustainable Future - included two recommendations not implemented by government.  These were that transgenic crops need to be excluded from regions where their presence would be a significant threat to an established conventional crop and that MAF provide a strategy to ensure honey is not contaminated with pollen from a transgenic crop.  The review noted that the RCGM called for ‘preserving opportunities’ and formulated 49 recommendations that included allowing for non-GE producers to be able to maintain production, organic or otherwise, without fear of transgenic contamination.[xxi] 

New Zealand has a successful history of developing conventional pines.  We should not put those at risk.

  1. Safety and monitoring

It is recognised that record keeping and monitoring can be inadequate, as can meeting approval conditions.  This is particularly reported as happening in China, and has happened in New Zealand.

The Crown Research Institute, Scion, has historically been accused by observers of negligent reporting.  The auditor - MAF Biosecurity New Zealand - and the Environmental Risk Management Authority were accused of being complicit in the negligence.  Scion had claimed that all the trees in one tree experiment were healthy and growing normally, when photographs available to New Zealand’s Soil & Health Association clearly showed some trees had significant die-back and abnormal growth.  Scion was also accused of not pruning all trees according to the approval conditions and of potentially transporting transgenic plant material on mowing equipment to other research and forest areas, and thus the wider environment.  Many forest owners have ground crews working in multiple areas, almost certainly transporting equipment.  Local monitoring and oversight would be a preferred practice.

PSGR Trustee, Dr Elvira Dommisse, a geneticist, speaking on the genetic engineering of pine trees, has said the claim of using genes that occur in New Zealand that pose no risk, “does not mean that the same gene which has been genetically engineered into another species in an artificial gene construction will be harmless.  It is in part true, but we cannot conclude from this that all is well.  In its genetically engineered form, the gene is no longer under the control of its own DNA.  It may well be a synthetic modified version of the original gene and is jammed into a complicated construct made up of bits of DNA from a number of different organisms.  This means the gene is always switched on and is engineered to produce large amounts of a protein or proteins that pine trees don't normally make.  The cellular machinery of a pine tree may produce a protein or proteins that are different from those used in the GE process.  Such altered proteins can be harmful.  This has already happened in genetically engineered peas, when a harmless bean protein became a toxin when engineered into the closely related pea.”

Safety testing of anything produced using genetic engineering technology is generally left to the developer.  Only a handful of independent tests have in fact been carried out and generally ignored.  There is a very urgent need for independent oversight and safety testing of all such experimentation.  We advocate people on the spot maintaining local monitoring.

Pierre Sigaud, an expert in forest genetics at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, has warned against rushing into growing transgenic trees commercially before running environmental risk assessments according to national and international protocols:  “The issue goes beyond country level since pollen flow and seed dispersal do not take account of national boundaries and wood is a global commodity.”[xxii]

  1. In conclusion

In response to the communities they serve, an increasing number of New Zealand’s local authorities are including or planning to include precautionary provisions or controls for transgenic organisms in their Regional Policy Statements.  Taking away that right undermines the democratic process.

Local authorities in the Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Auckland, and Northland – representing in excess of a third of the country’s population - have recognised the need for stricter local controls over transgenic organisms in the environment than central government requires.  Communities no longer have faith in the integrity of government agencies to meet their duty of care to protect New Zealanders.  What the public see is a rubber stamping of applications without regard to the population or the environment.  As they have experienced it, it is the demands of ‘big business’ that are met. 

The Environment Court has supported the inclusion of a local precautionary approach to meet public needs in the Bay of Plenty and Northland.[xxiii]. A local community will have a more immediate ‘eye’ on developments.

The risks associated with the release into the environment of novel DNA are environmental and economic, and can potentially affect human health and welfare. 

Being ‘GE-free’ is a substantial part of New Zealand being claimed clean, green and 100% Pure which gives exporters a significant edge in selling their products and gives tourism a unique competitive tool to attract overseas visitors.  The effect on New Zealand’s reputation overseas and exports of growing transgenic plants or trees would be very damaging. 

Considering honey exports alone.  Proteins of transgenic origin found in Canadian honey exported to the European Union resulted in a drop in honey exports to Europe of 55%.[xxiv]  In 2011, the European Court of Justice ruled that honey produced though cross-pollination with a transgenic crop must be authorized as a ‘GM product’ before being sold.[xxv]  Not only do transgenic crops threaten pollen contamination, also contaminated weeds and plants from truck seed spillages. 

A substantial part of Mexico's agricultural export is honey; ranked fifth worldwide for exporting honey.[xxvi]  In 2014, researchers sampled honey from nine hives in the Campeche region and found they contained pollen from transgenic soy crops grown near the apiaries.  German buyers rejected the honey.

The costs to public bodies and the public purse of transgenes free in the environment would be in the millions, if not billions of dollars.  Local authorities should retain the right to manage these risks locally with local support.  In response to their communities and businesses, Councils are including precautionary provisions or controls in their Regional Policy Statements based on community input and scientific uncertainty about transgenic organisms.  They should retain the right to do so.  The proposed NES-PF would take away this right of protection.

6.1 Integrity

The general public give no credibility to the integrity of decisions by regulating bodies.

Conflicts of interest have been exposed and irresponsible approvals given: 

  • Crop & Food merged with HortResearch to form Plant and Food Research just a year after HortResearch’s Kieran Elbrough and Max Suckling were half of the 2007 ERMA decision-making committee that approved the Crop & Food’s transgenic brassica field trial application[xxvii]; a trial that was very poorly managed. This is reminiscent of the “Revolving Door” applied to and discrediting many approvals made by US regulatory bodies.[xxviii]
  • Media reports showed Scion mislead the public ahead of getting its last transgenic field trial approval. It was spending taxpayers’ dollars preparing its field trial site in July 2009, four months ahead of the ERMA (now EPA) hearing in November.  The application was approved later.[xxix]
  • Despite world governments involved in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) establishing an international moratorium on Terminator technology, Scion’s Applications to plant Pinus radiata using genetic use restriction technology - terminator technology – were approved;  Applications GMF000032, GMF000033, GMF000034, GMF000035, GMF000036, GMF000037, GMF000038, and GMF000039.

The public have asked Councils to protect their region and Councils must be able to exercise precaution.  A major obstacle to that right of protection comes from an industry – principally, with overseas interests - that influences government polices worldwide.  This National Environmental Standard should set effective and precautionary bottom lines that allow all communities to oversee any application for transgenic trees in their local environment.  No approval should be given without that consultation, and additionally independent evaluation and testing.

Local industries that play an important part in exports will be affected if the acceptance of novel DNA release is eased; for example, beekeepers who wish to keep their products free of transgenic organisms because overseas as well as local markets demand it; New Zealand’s growing organic product export market.

Councils in the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Auckland and Hawkes Bay recognise the need for local controls, and the Environment Court has supported the inclusion of a local precautionary approach in Regional Policy Statements.

We urge that the risks described above are addressed in the proposal by allowing local authorities to have jurisdiction over decisions that affect the communities they serve.


The Trustees of Physicians and Scientists for Global Responsibility New Zealand Charitable Trust


Recommended:  ‘A Silent Forest:  The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees,’ narrated by Dr David Suzuki (44 min. DVD).  It discusses the threats posed by transgenic trees to our environment and to human health.  Professor Emeritus, David Suzuki, is an internationally respected geneticist, an award-winning broadcaster, the author of 43 books, and recognized as a world leader in sustainable ecology.


[1] In Alliance for Bio-Integrity et al v Shalala (1998) over 44,000 pages of files produced by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the behest of the Court revealed it had declared genetically engineered foods to be safe despite disagreement from its own experts, and that it falsely claimed a broad scientific consensus supported its stance.  Internal reports and memoranda disclosed agency scientists repeatedly cautioned that foods produced through recombinant DNA technology - that is, genetically engineered organisms - entail different risks than do their conventionally produced counterparts and that this was consistently disregarded when FDA policy was written in treating transgenic foods the same as conventional ones.  In taking this stance, the agency violated the US Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in allowing genetically engineered foods to be marketed without testing on the premise that they are ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) by qualified experts.  The consensus of scientists working for the FDA at that time was that transgenic foods were inherently risky, and might create hard-to-detect allergies, poisons, gene transfer to gut bacteria, new diseases, and nutritional problems.  They urged rigorous long-term tests.



[i] Environment Court decision (No. [2015] NZEnvC 89) – Northland RC vs Federated Farmers, Judge LJ Newhook, full document on

[ii] Environment Court Decision November 2013 BOP vs Scion

[iii] China was the first country to release transgenic trees commercially.  Its Chinese State Forestry Bureau is unable to trace all of the 1.4 million GE poplars (Populus nigra) it planted.  Field trials are progressing with Poplars engineered to be infertile and pest resistant.  ‘GM trees lost in China’s forests,’ SiS 25.               


[v] See The Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) Press Release, 2 March 2005, Terminator Trees.  Soil & Health, Scion Annual Report to ERMA, 2007 Annual Report GMF99001 & GMF99005 [Public version]; Organic NZ ‘Failure in GE Tree Reporting May Bring Tears To Crop & Food’s Onion Trial’ 5 February 2008; ‘Rotorua GE Tree Trial remains an environmental threat’ 16 March 2008, ‘GE Tree trial breach shows institutional contradictions’ 16 January 2008, ‘Christmas is over Scion, take the GE trees down’ 13 January 2008; Hawkes Bay Today, 16 and 19 January 2008.   ‘GM trees the ultimate threat.’ SiS 26.

[vi] MPI’s website at

[vii] ‘Situation and outlook for New Zealand agriculture and forestry’, NZ Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, 2007. 

[viii] ‘Wilding conifers - New Zealand history and research background’, a presentation by Nick Ledgard at the "Managing wilding conifers in New Zealand - present and future" workshop (2003).


[x]  ‘Long-distance pine pollen still germinates after meso-scale dispersal’, Claire G. Williams, Forest History Society and NESCent, North Carolina 27701 USA, 16 February 2010.

[xi] ‘ERMA  hearing for applications to field trial genetically-modified Pinus radiata’, Dr Mike Carson.

[xii] ‘The Fire Pines’, Richard Warren and Alfred J Fordham,


[xiv]   Dr Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Centre for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, US, states:  “the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied.  If new genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D are approved the volume of 2,4-D sprayed could drive herbicide usage upward by another approximate 50%.”  ‘Ecological risks associated with the release of transgenic crops include non-target effects of the crop and the escape of transgenic DNA into wild populations. …Because humans move seeds around the globe, both intentionally and accidentally, restricting transgenic crops to areas outside the native range will only temporarily delay the movement of transgenes into wild relatives.’ ‘Ecological effects of transgenic crops and the escape of transgenes into wild populations’, Pilson D and Prendeville, H, Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 2004. 35:149–74





[xix] ’Multiple uses of forests,’ SiS 25;

[xx] Listed on

[xxi] International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weed

[xxii] (FAO 2004, Preliminary review of biotechnology in forestry, including genetic modification. Forest Genetic Resources Working Paper FGR/59E. Rome. Available at:; ‘A Concept to Engineer Male Reproductive Sterility in Conifers,’ Christian Walter;; Press Release 12/10/05, UN Cautions Over GM trees.

[xxiii] Environment Court Decision November 2013 BOP vs Scion Environment Court decision (No. [2015] NZEnvC 89) – Northland RC vs Federated Farmers, Judge LJ Newhook, full document on

[xxiv] Smyth et al., 2002

[xxv]  29 September 2011

[xxvi] Pollen from GM soybeans threatens Mexico's honey sales, 11 February 2014