Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Take Action! Help Stop the Planting of 260,000 Genetically Engineered Trees in the U.S.

In !ACTION CENTER! on June 17, 2009 at 7:59 am

From RON EPSTEIN
Ukiah

June 17, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Please help stop this ecological nightmare before it begins. No recall of the GE genes from the environment will be possible. Where they will go, how they will interact with other species and viruses no one knows…

Ron
~
Dangerous Genetically Engineered (GE) Eucalyptus Trees on Fast-Track to Large-Scale Release in the U.S.

ACTION NEEDED BY JULY 6! Tell the USDA NO WAY to ArborGen’s Eucalyptus Frankentrees

In an unprecedented move toward commercial large-scale release of GE forest trees in the United States, GE tree giant ArborGen is petitioning the U.S. government to be allowed to plant an estimated 260,000 flowering GE eucalyptus trees across seven southern U.S. states on 330 acres in so-called “field trials.”

The mass-planting of 260,000 flowering GE eucalyptus trees is a major step toward the unregulated development of large-scale GE eucalyptus plantations in the U.S. ArborGen has already requested permission for the commercial planting of GE cold tolerant eucalyptus clones across the U.S. South. The government is expected to issue their decision on this later this year.

Government approval of GE eucalyptus trees will set a dangerous precedent to allow other experimental GE forest trees, including poplar and pine, that would inevitably and irreversibly contaminate native trees with destructive GE traits, devastating forest ecosystems and wildlife. Once GE trees escape, there is no way to call them back.

The only way to stop genetic contamination of native forests is to ban the commercial release of GE trees before it is too late.

TAKE ACTION! Tell the USDA that GE cold-tolerant eucalyptus plantations pose an unprecedented threat to U.S. forests and wildlife. Tell them to reject ArborGen’s request to plant more than a quarter of a million dangerous alien GE trees on nearly 30 sites across the Southern U.S. Since these field trials are a concrete step toward unregulated commercial growing of dangerous GE eucalyptus, they must be rejected.

For more information about the STOP GE Trees Campaign, click here.

Background:

According to ArborGen, eucalyptus is a “fast-growing hardwood tree that is a favorite of the international forest products industry”[3] Globally, forests in tropical and subtropical regions have been decimated for the development of eucalyptus plantations, with devastating results for communities and biodiversity. ArborGen now wants to spread this disaster to new regions with their GE cold-tolerant eucalyptus.

Some of the impacts caused by eucalyptus plantations that now threaten the U.S. include:

* Widespread destruction of native forests: Australian Eucalyptus were introduced to California in the 1850s and these invasive aliens now grow throughout the state; more than 200 species have been introduced into the U.S. The cold-tolerance trait will allow the disaster of eucalyptus plantations to be expanded into regions that are too cold for conventional eucalyptus–including the U.S. South.

* Uncontrollable wildfires: Raging wildfires in Australia this year, made worse by drought, traveled over 60 miles an hour, devastating wildlife and killing 173 people. The1991 Oakland, CA firestorm, exacerbated by eucalyptus, cost $1.5 billion in damages.

* Loss of fresh water: Eucalyptus trees are fast-growing “water-suckers.” They require tremendous amounts of water, threatening to worsen the drought already being experienced in areas of the Southern United States.

* Vast clearcutting of biodiverse forests to grow monoculture plantations of GE Eucalyptus clones;

* Silent forests: Wildlife that cannot use the Eucalyptus for habitat nor food will be lost. Endangered species will be threatened.

* Contamination of soils and groundwater with toxic pesticides used on the plantations, often aerially sprayed;

* Worsening of climate change through the destruction of carbon-rich native forests for carbon-poor plantations.

* Eucalyptus is a known host for the deadly pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus Gattii. Originally a tropical fungus, it was recently found around Pacific Northwest Eucalyptus groves, and can kill both humans and wildlife.
~~

  1. The Organic Consumers Association [oca@mail.democracyinaction.org] is also quite active in this area. This quote is from their current newsletter:

    “Scientists at Duke University in North Carolina have created pollen models that show tree pollen traveling from a forest in North Carolina for over 1,000 kilometers northward into eastern Canada. Scientists researching sterility in trees have admitted that 100 percent guaranteed sterility in GE trees is impossible. This evidence implies that if GE trees are released into the environment, widespread and irreversible contamination of native forests cannot be prevented.”

    Source: Anne Petermann of the Global Justice Ecology Project

    See also:
    http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/642/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27451

    http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_17996.cfm

    http://capwiz.com/grassrootsnetroots/issues/alert/?alertid=13553661

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