Few other companies have dared to try to splice foreign DNA into native trees thus far. But an engineered, fast-growing eucalyptus, which grows widely in Australia, will soon replace the native pine in the U.S. as an attempt to dominate the U.S. timber industry.
GMO trees are not new though, they are just a newer threat to the U.S.:
Genetically engineered and other industrial tree plantations are not only a concern in the U.S., but internationally. Rural communities in Brazil have been fighting non-GE eucalyptus plantations for decades, and are also opposing the introduction of GE eucalyptus plantations. Additionally, in 2006 and 2008 the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) warned countries of the social and ecological dangers of GE trees. —Convention on Biodiversity
International Paper Co. no longer owns forestlands in the U.S. and this may be why they are looking to replant with genetically modified versions. The company, along with its partner in crime, MVC, are counting on a controversial gene splice that restricts trees’ ability to reproduce, meant to allay fears of bioengineered eucalyptus turning invasive and overtaking native forests—at least this is the public reason given for the “need” of GMO trees.
This also means that as non-producing trees overtake larger portions of the forest, our very earth is placed further in control of biotech’s grip. Our forests will become subject to the same God-complex that biotech already presumes of determining when and how Mother Nature grows. The same way we have patented suicide seeds for food crops that must be replanted every year, we will end up with patented forests that won’t regenerate unless we purchase the seeds from the “owners.” There are also obvious and profound ramifications for bio-diversity if this habit of governing nature is allowed to fester unchecked.
“Forest biological diversity results from evolutionary processes over thousands and even millions of years which, in themselves, are driven by ecological forces such as climate, fire, competition and disturbance. Furthermore, the diversity of forest ecosystems (in both physical and biological features) results in high levels of adaptation, a feature of forest ecosystems which is an integral component of their biological diversity. Within specific forest ecosystems, the maintenance of ecological processes is dependent upon the maintenance of their biological diversity.” —Decision Regarding GE Trees at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Ninth Conference of the Parties, Bonn Germany, May 2008
There are also plans for GMO plants which can provide cellulose ethanol that would further indebt us and tie energy consumption to petroleum infused with ethanol. The claim is that GMO plants will make ethanol cheap, but once again biotech overlooks the long-term, domino effect of their actions. Our current use of ethanol isn’t even good. It is bad for car engines, raises taxes and fuel prices and even food prices as more land is cultivated for ethanol-crops instead of organic food.
Once again, the hope of profits outweighs reason. GMO trees, nor GMO plants have not been studied long-term, by non-biased science, and even if tested in the lab, they cannot replicate what will happen in the real world, where GMO crops have already proven to be an wretched failure. Even though eucalyptus trees can resist freezing temperatures, the pine trees that are already growing in the Southwest are not genetically modified.
The company isn’t looking to plant non-GMO trees that are fast growing, like bamboo or hemp, Crape Myrtle, Dawn redwood, Empress trees, Leyland cypress or Lombardy poplar. Bamboo is also one of the biggest carbon sinks on the planet. Why not invest in natural plants and wind energy, instead of trying to own Mother Nature once again. RWE AG is planning on building the largest wood pellet plants in Georgia to supplement coal habits, but what of an investment in cleaner technologies like solar, wind, and wave-generated energy? The U.S. southwest is a huge untapped wind energy corridor. I suppose the dirty energy habit is hard to break.
“The United States is behind the game on this,” said Les Pearson, ArborGen’s director of regulatory affairs. “Lots of countries around the world have been growing eucalyptus for many decades.” In America there are currently over 700 types of trees. Let’s keep it that way. Global Justice Ecology has a petition directed at the USDA you can sign here to keep GMO trees from taking over the world.