Nearly 17,500 public comments were sent to the US Department of Agriculture opposing their recommendation for approval of an ArborGen proposal to plant over a quarter of a million genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees. Only 39 favorable comments were received by the USDA. If allowed, the plantings would take place on 330 acres of land across seven states in the Southern U.S., to supposedly feed future cellulosic ethanol production.
All but one of the field trials would be allowed to flower and produce seeds. The trees are genetically engineered to be cold tolerant, produce less lignin and have altered fertility. When the USDA issued their draft Environmental Assessment (EA) in early May in favor of ArborGen’s proposal, the STOP GE Trees Campaign mobilized.
The collection of comments from people firmly opposing the large-scale release of GE eucalyptus trees was a combined effort of several different organizations, including Dogwood Alliance, that recognize the inherent danger in this industry proposal. Eucalyptus trees are known to be wildly invasive, extremely flammable and deplete huge quantities of ground water. They are also not native to North America. In many cases they have exacerbated drought conditions, which can set the stage for devastating wildfires. In a massive Australian eucalyptus wildfire earlier this year 173 people perished.
The good people at TriplePundit, posted an excellent piece about it this morning, you can view it here.
Or to read our press release, look here .
For more information, visit the Stop GE Trees Campaign .