Media Advisory

Contact: DJ Nordquist, 202-347-9132

Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology

Conference Call for MediaBiotech Branches Out: A Look at the Risks and Benefits of Forest Biotechnology

WHAT: What does the future hold? Genetically engineered Xmas trees? The reintroduction of extinct tree species into the environment? Or "silent forests" -- the growth of genetically modified trees that do not support wildlife, flora or other natural parts of the environment.

The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, in partnership with the Society of American Foresters and the Ecological Society of America, will explore these and other important questions at "Biotech Branches Out: A Look at the Opportunities and Impacts of Forest Biotechnology," on December 4th-5th in Atlanta. The aim of the workshop is to discuss both the risks and benefits of genetically modifying forests, not just among scientists, but also with ethicists and environmentalists. Because this technology is in its infancy, now is the time to examine the questions of political, sociological, ecological and economic context -- before these products hit the market the U.S. Experts on the call will present a very brief overview of the conference and will answer questions from the media.

WHEN: Wednesday, December 5, 200112:00 to 12:45 pm EST

WHO: -- Prof. Toby Bradshaw of the University of Washington, an expert on current research on genetically engineered trees and why it is so promising, and whose lab was destroyed by eco-terrorists earlier this year

-- Prof. Alan McQuillan of the University of Montana, who has an expertise in the social aspects of trees and forests and will discuss cultural attitudes towards genetically modifying trees

-- Prof. Dan Botkin of the University of California at Santa Barbara, an expert on the unique risks to the environment posed by genetic engineering of trees and forests

HOW: Please call DJ Nordquist of the Pew Initiative at 202-347-9132 to reserve a line. To access the press conference, please call 1-800-451-7724 and reference the "GM trees" conference call. A tape of the conference call can also be heard from 2-5pm EST by calling 1-800-945-0804.

The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research project whose goal is to inform the public and policymakers on issues about genetically modified food and agricultural biotechnology, including its importance, as well as concerns about it and its regulation. It is funded by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to the University of Richmond.