As we previously reported, Gibson, the famous guitar maker, is facing a criminal investigation in the USA over that claims it broke environmental laws on importing wood. On August 28th, federal agents seized shipments of Indian rosewood from Gibson’s Nashville and Memphis grounds with US Authorities claiming that Gibson had violated the terms of the US Lacey Act. The law requires that imports to the US comply with laws in the country of origin.
This was the second time that Gibson was raided since the law took effect 2008. The first raid was about wood imported from Madagascar. Rosewood, specially Brazilian rosewood is regarded by some guitarists “holy grail”. It is effectively unavailable as it is officially an endangered species. Wood from Madagascar has been banned amid pressure from environmental groups. Although available in India, it is only under certain conditions.
The wood is used for fingerboards with a strip running along the neck of the guitar. Rosewood is touted by serious guitar players as the best material for this purpose.
In a somewhat bizarre move, Gibson chief, Henry Juskiewicz, turned to the Tea Party for support (!!!!) claiming that this raid was an example of “unacceptable over-reach” of the US federal government: Juskiewicz even appeared on stage in Nashville and was introduced as the “the man who stood up to the federal government”.
Perhaps more sensibly, on the Gibson website a statement says “The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India (simply) because if the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal. This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India.”