Factory Forests? USDA Considers Approval of Genetically Engineered Trees
2013-11-12 0:00

From: Organic Connections

As the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers whether to approve the first genetically engineered (GE) forest tree for commercial use, Center for Food Safety (CFS) released its new report, Genetically Engineered Trees: The New Frontier of Biotechnology. The report details the potential ecological and socioeconomic hazards of GE trees currently under commercial development.

USDA is currently reviewing a GE Eucalyptus for unrestricted planting. Eucalyptus is primarily cultivated to provide pulp for paper and “wood pellets,” which are used for fuel. The GE tree, developed by the biotechnology corporation ArborGen, is engineered to grow in colder climates. ArborGen hopes to cultivate GE tree plantations across much of the southeastern United States.

Debbie Barker, international program director for Center for Food Safety, and editor of the report, stated, “Commercializing GE trees could be devastating to the environment. ‘Factory forests’ will accelerate and expand large-scale, chemical-intensive, monoculture plantations. We need to understand the risks in order to determine if GE trees are a sustainable way forward or a dangerous diversion.”

GE trees have been promoted under a banner of environmental sustainability. However, the report reveals that GE tree plantations would require vast amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, and water. Further, tree plantations reduce biodiversity, can increase greenhouse gas emissions, and lead to deforestation.

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Read the full article at: organicconnectmag.com



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