More than 80 people gathered at the entrance to Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA on Sunday, July 22, to express their opposition to genetically engineered trees. Scientists are meeting there this week to plan further contamination of ecosystems.
Activists from as far away as Vermont traveled to the Columbia Gorge to protest Frankentrees. Some of the mad scientists meeting at the upscale resort ventured out to observe the protest. Steve Strauss, one of the conveners and a genetic "engineer" of trees at Oregon State University talked to some of the protestors.
Plenty of law enforcement was also on hand. The uniformed officers were relatively friendly, but the plainclothes types tried to intimidate the peaceful protestors by videotaping them and writing down license plate numbers. One suspicious woman was reportedly observed "messing with" an activists car twice.
The protest started at 4pm and ended just before 6pm, timed to greet the scientists as they arrived for the start of the conference. Almost all present blew whistles and made plenty of noise, which was sure to be heard by those in the lodge. Banners with messages such as "Biotechnology, Giving Pollution a Life of Its Own", "GE Trees: A Grim Harvest" "Stop Genetic Pollution", and "Genetically Engineered Trees: Bad for Biodiversity" were displayed.
Genetically engineered trees pose the same problems as genetically engineered agricultural crops, but because trees are relatively undomesticated and have much longer lives the potential for disaster is even greater. Commercialization of GE trees is several years away and must be stopped.
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