7 Emmett Street
Spencer MA 01562-2005
March 28, 2019
Dear MA/RI Chapter Board Members, Asheville Staff, Chapter Presidents, etc.
Because of our opposition to the genetically engineered chestnut, Denis and I have come to the sad conclusion that we can no longer remain on the MA/RI Chapter board of The American Chestnut Foundation and I will resign as chapter president. We are unwilling to lift a finger, donate a nickel or spend one minute of our time assisting the development of GE trees or using the American chestnut to promote biotechnology in forests as any kind of benefit to the environment. The GE American chestnut is, we believe, draining the idealism and integrity from TACF.
We made the decision to join TACF immediately upon learning of its existence sixteen years ago and we were prepared to volunteer for the chapter until we were too elderly to be able to contribute. Looking back, if we had known on day one that Monsanto and ArborGen had an interest in – and funded – the GMO chestnut, we would not have gotten involved.
Later when we learned about it, we were reassured by clichés about the public interest being protected by the dreaded “Regulatory Gauntlet.” Now we know better. The current administration’s “Regulatory Gauntlet” is a farce. Even the Academy of Science has said that the regulatory agencies in our country are unable to deal with the potential risks of putting GE American chestnuts out in the forest. And Trump’s public remarks have made it clear that he is on the same page as Monsanto, ArborGen and TACF.
No matter what position our board may take on the GE chestnut we believe that even if it said no to any level of involvement, the NY chapter activist in our midst will continue his work on their behalf and there will be GE chestnuts planted in Massachusetts. A lot of important and valuable back cross breeding work is being done and we feel that this progress is threatened if these 94% American hybrids are contaminated by GE chestnuts that are allowed to spread their pollen with no controls or regulations as is proposed.
Even though by resigning from the board we will be drastically reducing our level of involvement, we remain strongly committed to the Tantasqua Chestnut Project and the efforts to create beautifully designed chestnut groves at Flynt Park in Monson MA. We also would like to honor the commitment of promised trees to conservation partners such as the Greater Worcester Land Trust, the Worcester Tree Initiative and Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary as well as the Food Forest Initiative at Cape Cod. In addition, we want to encourage and support those individuals who are now developing an organic chestnut agricultural crop in western MA.
We consider ourselves fortunate to have discovered some extraordinarily beautiful places like Meadowview Virginia, and Ashfield Massachusetts, and to have met so many nice people along the way including board and committee members, science coordinators and the staff at TACF’s headquarters.
We admire the work done by the Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) and agree with them in opposing the unknown, long term risks posed by the GE chestnut and other GE trees and we intend to support GJEP in our future endeavors.
Lois A. Breault-Melican Denis M. Melican