GE Trees and Biochar Will Save the Planet! (Not really…)

In the article below, we once again find scientists attempting to advance their careers by suggesting that the best way to “save the planet” is by getting as far away from nature as possible.  In this fantastical article, scientists argue that industrial scale plantations of GE trees could store enough carbon to help stop climate change.  This ignores several studies that have come before it.  One by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Resources Institute found that tree plantations only store 1/4 the carbon of native wild forests.  Another from Duke University found that trees do not increase their uptake of carbon unless their soils are rich in nitrogen.  This either means rich agricultural lands will need to be taken over for these plantations (displacing communities and exacerbating the food crisis) or they will need nitrogen fertilizers–which are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The idea behind this study comes out of the World Forestry Congress–that global gathering of timber industry executives, foresters and others that occurs once every six years.  At their last gathering in Buenos Aires in 2009 they extolled the notion that we can have our trees and eat them too.  We can store more carbon in trees at the same time that we massively increase the demand for wood for bioenergy, biochar and other products.

This logic is obviously flawed on multiple levels and ignores the most basic rule of genetic engineering–unforseen consequences are unavoidable.  Engineering DNA causes mutations which lead to unpredictable results.  The only thing certain about genetic engineering is that it is an absolutely uncertain and highly dangerous science.

–Anne Petermann, for the GJEP Team

(to read Anne’s blog post from the World Forestry Congress, click here

To read the outcomes of the World Forestry Congress, click here


Genetically altered trees, plants could help counter global warming

Cross-posted from American Institute of Biological Sciences

Study evaluates prospects for boosting carbon sequestration from the atmosphere by modifying natural biological processes and deploying novel food and fuel crops

Forests of genetically altered trees and other plants could sequester several billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year and so help ameliorate global warming, according to estimates published in the October issue of BioScience.

The study, by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, outlines a variety of strategies for augmenting the processes that plants use to sequester carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into long-lived forms of carbon, first in vegetation and ultimately in soil.

Besides increasing the efficiency of plants’ absorption of light, researchers might be able to genetically alter plants so they send more carbon into their roots–where some may be converted into soil carbon and remain out of circulation for centuries. Other possibilities include altering plants so that they can better withstand the stresses of growing on marginal land, and so that they yield improved bioenergy and food crops. Such innovations might, in combination, boost substantially the amount of carbon that vegetation naturally extracts from air, according to the authors’ estimates.

The researchers stress that the use of genetically engineered plants for carbon sequestration is only one of many policy initiatives and technical tools that might boost the carbon sequestration already occurring in natural vegetation and crops.

The article, by Christer Jansson, Stan D. Wullschleger, Udaya C. Kalluri, and Gerald A. Tuskan, is the first in a Special Section in the October BioScience that includes several perspectives on the prospects for enhancing biological carbon sequestration. Other articles in the section analyze the substantial ecological and economic constraints that limit such efforts. One article discusses the prospects for sequestering carbon by culturing algae to produce biofuel feedstocks; one proposes a modification of the current regulatory climate for producing genetically engineered trees in the United States; and one discusses societal perceptions of the issues surrounding the use of genetically altered organisms to ameliorate warming attributed to the buildup of greenhouse gases.


By noon EST on 1 October 2010 and until early November, the full text of the article will be available for free download through the copy of this press release available at

BioScience, published 11 times per year, is the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). BioScience publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles covering a wide range of biological fields, with a focus on “Organisms from Molecules to the Environment.” The journal has been published since 1964. AIBS is an umbrella organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents some 200 member societies and organizations with a combined membership of about 250,000.
The complete list of peer-reviewed articles in the October 2010 issue of BioScience is as follows:
Phytosequestration: Carbon Biosequestration by Plants and the Prospects of Genetic Engineering by Christer Jansson, Stan D. Wullschleger, Udaya C. Kalluri, and Gerald A. Tuskan
Opportunities and Constraints for Forest Climate Mitigation by Robert B. Jackson and Justin S. Baker
Managing Soils and Ecosystems for Mitigating Anthropogenic Carbon Emissions and Advancing Global Food Security by Rattan Lal
Microalgae: The Potential for Carbon Capture by Richard Sayre
Far-reaching Deleterious Impacts of Regulations on Research and Environmental Studies of Recombinant DNA-modified Perennial Biofuel Crops in the United States by Steven H. Strauss, Drew L. Kershen, Joe H. Bouton, Thomas P. Redick, Huimin Tan, and Roger A. Sedjo
Societal Choice for Climate Change Futures: Trees, Biotechnology, and Clean Development by Emily Boyd
Time Horizons and Extinction Risk in Endangered Species Categorization Systems by Jesse D’Elia and Scott McCarthy

Comments Off on GE Trees and Biochar Will Save the Planet! (Not really…)

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0 Responses to GE Trees and Biochar Will Save the Planet! (Not really…)

  1. Hi,

    Great Blog!

    The world needs to stop conmen like Peter McHendry from running biofuel scams & preying on AIDS Victims…

    Here are some very homophobic comments made by chode Peter McHendry

    You can see this Australians experience of Peter McHendry’s luxury holidays with “Global Adventures” another non existent Peter McHendry Global business….

    Comment 17 describes various lies and misrepresentations from “Dr” Peter McHendry who thinks it is reasonable to charge $2500 for a month in a field that mcHendry does not even own (with no food)

    More homophobic rantings from Peter McHendry on his arrest record from the USA…

    I would not be surprised to find out that Peter McHendry is a closet homosexual….

    Ricky B

  2. Hi found your article very interesting, I have bookmarked you… I am more into the practical side of biofuel production

    These short video’s show you how easy it is to start making your own biodiesel


  3. new_biochar_land

    The world is a great place, but it is falling apart and we all are responsable for this. Be responsable now and try to make it better.
    Biochar, one of the newest option can contribuate to atmospheric CO2 reduction. Find out more:
    The Biochar Revolution is exactly what it says !

  4. If you are interested in visiting Africa on a Volunteer program, for heavens sake do not go any where near “Dr” Peter Mc Hendry or global adventures, Christian ski or any other companies run by “Dr” Peter McHendry – have a look at what he did to this poor chap!
    Peter McHendry is a fraudster who has been deported from Zambia for breeching labour laws (not paying his poor village staff) and failing to register any sort of business interest in Zambia. The Police in South Africa are looking for McHendry in regards to Insurance Fraud and conning investors into his failed Global Bio Diesel Business.
    This man is very dangerous and is believed to have several personality disorders, such as Jerusalem syndrome.
    The Lonely Planet confirms that “Dr” Peter McHendry had not paid his staff for two months BEWARE PETER MC HENDRY IS A FRAUDSTER IN LEAUGE WITH SATAN!

  5. Peter Mc Hendry

    This note is a hate message from Mr. Timothy Andrews and Douglas Blackwell who I removed from my business and laid charges again due to be involved in drugs and because they defrauded millions from the UK plublic under the company known as Bio Partners.

    A charge has been laid against them and there is a warrent of arrest for them.

    The contents of the blog are focused to discredit me due to my massive palns for the production of Bio Fuel Globally.

    Call me an time to get the turth.

    Dr. Peter Mc Hendry +27 763927434

  6. Joe

    Hi Great informational Blog!

    I have been working in Bio Fuels in Africa since 2008 I am posting to warn people about “Dr” Peter McHendry who has taken over R3,000,000 from investors into his Global BioDiesel, Omnium investment Trust, Akula Trading 227 PTY compaines.

    He is also responsible for a Voulenteer Scam “Great Earth Safari” and Christian Ski – He ran away from America after his property there was forclosed

    full details including contact numbers for the Police in South Africa can be found here;

    We cannot let the BioFuel Industry get tarnished by people like “Dr” Peter Mc Hendry

  7. Orgtanic farming systems can deliver agronomic and environmental benefits both through structural changes and tactical management of farming systems.The benefits of organic farming r relevant both to developed nations (environmental protection, biodiversity enhancement, reduced energy use and CO2 emmission) and to developing countries like India (sustainable resource use, increaseed crop yields without over-reliance on costly extent inputs, environment and biodiversity protection etc,)

  8. NGOs have moved from back stage to centre stage in world politics, and are exerting their power and influence in every aspect of international relations and policy making. They have in most part, been a positive force in domestic and international affairs. However, in recent times, various global Climate Justice Networks have popped up. These are platforms mainly constituted and controlled by Northern NGOs.

    We as member of the NGO fraternity or general public seldom research their record of accomplishment; or ask awkward questions on northern NGOs policies; or chase facts behind their claims and publicity spin. One of the most basic questions as we dig deeper is what kind of credentials do these northern NGOs possess to champion justice issues. Simply put – are they committed to principles of justice as portrayed in their carefully cultivated public image?

    If we go back to history, what we find is that they have a chequered past in terms of justice credentials. Rwandan Genocide until now had been regarded as the worst shame of NGO behaviour. This was genocide where an estimated 800,000 were massacred. The nineties saw NGOs soul-searching on such behaviour even as today NGO workers remain mentally scarred of experiences such as Rwanda. Apparently lessons have not been learnt as we find that through their climate advocacy they have not repeating the mistakes of the past but the shame hit a new low.

    Read more:

  9. Pingback: GE Trees and Biochar Will Save the Planet! (Not really…) « Climate … | Genetic Engineering Digest