Photo: Eucalyptus plantations in South Africa go on as far as the eye can see. Escaped eucalyptus trees are found widely outside of the plantations. Photo: Petermann/ GJEP
This is a franken-tree emergency! According to an article in the Organic Consumers Association newsletter, the Department of Agriculture is about to approve field trials for genetically engineered eucalyptus trees – 260,000 of them – without even conducting an Environmental Impact Statement to assess potential negative effects.
The company ArborGen wants to conduct 29 field trials. Here’s a quote from Anne Petermann of the Global Justice Ecology Project:
“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.”
And if that doesn’t make your hair stand on end, try this:
One of the experimental GE tree varieties is a known host for cryptococcus gatti, a fatal fungal pathogen whose spores cause meningitis in people and animals.
Comments are being accepted by the USDA until July 6, 2009. Here’s a link to a form for making a comment to the USDA. Let’s stop this before it even starts.