Letter: Trees on the loose

Sir: When Dr Nigel Poole of Zeneca, commenting on the destruction of GM trees, says that "it's not about food, it's not about the environment" ("UK's `most eco-friendly' trees are destroyed by GM activists", 13 July) he is only half right. It is true that we don't grow trees to eat them.

However, it is wrong to suggest that these were Britain's "most eco-friendly" trees. GM trees are not the answer and, indeed, undermine genuinely sustainable forestry measures such as the standards set by the International Forest Stewardship Council for sustainable forest management. These standards prohibit the use of GM technology.

The impact of any release of GM trees into the environment is unpredictable and uncontainable. Zeneca seeks to assure us that these "tests" are safe, that there is no possibility of genetic escape because all the trees are female and so will not produce pollen. This ignores the important fact that poplars propagate by branchlets which readily snap off and are carried from the site on any windy day.

SARAH BURTON

Campaign Director

Greenpeace UK

London N1

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