Nature recently ran this story by Heidi Ledford about the hearing and Suzano’s push to plant GE eucalyptus tree plantations in Brazil.
The article includes a lot of very good information about where we are at, including quotes from an interview with Anne Petermann. It’s great that media, particularly institutions like Nature, are finally paying attention!
That said, Ledford does not push back enough against industry’s claims about the potential benefits and safety of genetically engineered trees. We can, though! The fact remains that thorough and independent risk assessments have been done. In fact, trees are so complex, as Steven Strauss notes in the article, that scientists don’t even know what questions to ask.
For a more detailed description of the risks and concerns of these GE Eucalyptus trees, read the open letters to the Brazilian biosafety commission here:
Brazil Considers Transgenic Trees
By Heidi Ledford, August 27, 2014. Nature
Viewed from above, Brazil’s orderly eucalyptus plantations offer a stark contrast to the hurly-burly of surrounding native forests. The trees, lined up like regiments of soldiers on 3.5 million hectares around the country, have been bred over decades to grow quickly.
On 4 September, a public hearing will consider bringing an even more vigorous recruit into the ranks: genetically engineered eucalyptus that produces around 20% more wood than conventional trees and is ready for harvest in five and a half years instead of seven. Brazilian regulators are evaluating the trees for commercial release; a decision could come as early as the end of this year.