in the forest, something stirs
Public Radio Requires
trading and GE trees rapped at UN conference
Genetic Engineering as the Final Conquest
impact of test-tube trees on the woods
tree genes on horizon
engineered trees are already in the field for research purposes. In the
U.S. over 60% of the field testing of GE trees is occurring in the South,
with South Carolina accounting for nearly 50% of all field releases.
Scientists are focused on pine and poplar trees- trees that are
fundamental to our native forest ecosystems. We have already seen dire
impacts from GE farm crops, which are not native to U.S. ecosystems and do
not interbreed with native plants. We face much more damaging impacts from
forestry applications since these are focused on native tree species that
will have direct impacts on the makeup of our forests.
trees will inevitably contaminate native forests by interbreeding with
wild trees. This will lead to irreversible changes in fundamental
ecosystem processes and will affect forests’ ability to support
wildlife, provide clean air and water, and produce valuable forest
drift in agriculture has occurred rapidly- A recent study by the Union
of Concerned Scientists concluded that seeds of traditional varieties
of corn, soybeans, and canola are pervasively contaminated with low
levels of DNA sequences derived from transgenic varieties.
Transgenically derived DNA was detected in 50 percent of the corn,
50 percent of the soybean, and 83 percent of the canola varieties
tested. These crops have been in production for less than a decade.
drift in forests can be expected to occur more rapidly because tree
pollen travels on a much larger scale and trees permeate the landscape
at higher frequency than farm crops. Scientific modeling has indicated that pollen from trees can be expected to travel up to
are facing long-term impacts resulting in widespread occurrences of
sterility, lack of lignin, and pesticide production in pine and poplar
trees in the wild. This will lead to an inability of contaminated
forests to reproduce, produce food for wildlife, and produce
of forests will have extreme consequences for forestland owners because it
will lead to the erosion of property rights and economic losses.
courts have decided that when a landowner’s property is contaminated
by GE seed or pollen that the affected crop becomes the property of
the corporation that developed the crop. This would effectively
illegalize regeneration in stands of contaminated trees (trees that
have been pollinated by GE trees). Farmers whose crops were
contaminated by GE varieties have been successfully sued for patent
in native tree species is focused on reducing the production of lignin
(the material that makes timber strong and rigid). This makes GE trees
easier to use for papermaking, but useless as sawtimber, which
provides the most profitable market for landowners. Genetic
contamination will make some forests incapable of producing marketable
technology will increase both negative impacts associated with monoculture
forestry and concentration of the forest products industry.
of engineered crop plants is designed to give corporations greater
control over the means of production. In agriculture, this has
translated to farmers being unable
to continue to save seeds, property destruction when land is
contaminated by GE crops, and prosecution of landowners whose land is
corporations successfully use this technology to increase production
efficiency, private forestland owners will be at a larger disadvantage
in the market.
and scientists are engineering trees with no regard to the dramatic
impacts that they will have on ecosystems, society, and private
landowners. There has been an unscientific lack of rational debate about
the fundamental questions involved in manipulating forests for the purpose
of industrial production.
have not made a case that there is a pressing need for this
industry argues that we will and should be increasing consumption of
paper and wood products without consideration of the need to reduce
wasteful consumption or the fundamental carrying capacity of our
is a lack if scientific honesty about the unavoidable occurence of
gene drift, the true impacts of GE in agriculture, and the
impossibility of assessing the long term impacts of gene drift.
has been only negligible effort to even begin documenting the risks
associated with this technology, and current regulations are grossly
public’s interest is last on the agenda for the industry. GE trees
are already growing in the field, and the industry has now arrived at
the question of how to “sell” this technology to the public and
landowners. There has been no genuine effort to address what is best
for society as a whole.