[permaculture] Genetically Modified Forest Planned for U.S.Southeast

fdnokes at hotmail.com fdnokes at hotmail.com
Fri Feb 5 15:44:33 EST 2010


There is a stunning documentary on gmo and trees, the incredible devastation 
that we must envision not working.
I haven't seen it.
Think David Suzuki narrates.
Silent Forest is the name, I believe.
Fran

--------------------------------------------------
From: "carolyn anderson" <cschampagne at gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 10:01 AM
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Genetically Modified Forest Planned for 
U.S.Southeast

> sheesh.  is nothing sacred?
> people are so dumb.
> Hold the vision that it won't work.
>
> Thanks for the heads up.
>
> Carolyn
>
> On Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 9:04 AM, mIEKAL aND <qazingulaza at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Genetically Modified Forest Planned for U.S. Southeast
>>
>> International Paper and MeadWestvaco are planning to transform
>> plantation forests of the southeastern U.S. by replacing native pine
>> with genetically engineered eucalyptus
>>
>> By Paul Voosen
>>
>>
>> http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=eucalyptus-genetically-modified-pine-tree-southwest-forest
>>
>> PINE GONE: Native pine trees could be sent to pasture in place of
>> eucalyptus, pictured here.
>> ISTOCK/MALIKETH
>> e-mail print comment
>>
>> Genetic engineering is coming to the forests.
>>
>> While the practice of splicing foreign DNA into food crops has become
>> common in corn and soy, few companies or researchers have dared to
>> apply genetic engineering to plants that provide an essential strut of
>> the U.S. economy, trees.
>>
>> But that will soon change. Two industry giants, International Paper
>> Co. and MeadWestvaco Corp., are planning to transform plantation
>> forests of the southeastern United States by replacing native pine
>> with genetically engineered eucalyptus, a rapidly growing Australian
>> tree that in its conventional strains now dominates the tropical
>> timber industry.
>>
>> The companies' push into genetically modified trees, led by their
>> joint biotech venture, ArborGen LLC, looks to overcome several hurdles
>> for the first time. Most prominently, they are banking on a
>> controversial gene splice that restricts trees' ability to reproduce,
>> meant to allay fears of bioengineered eucalyptus turning invasive and
>> overtaking native forests.
>>
>> If such a fertility control technology -- which has come under fire in
>> farming for fear seed firms will exploit it -- is proven effective, it
>> could open the door to many varieties of wild plants, including weedy
>> grasses, to be genetically engineered for use in energy applications
>> like biomass and next-generation biofuels without fear of
>> invasiveness.
>>
>> The use of such perennial plants -- so named because, unlike annual
>> farm crops, they live and grow for many years -- has long interested
>> business and government, including the Energy Department, which has
>> collaborated with ArborGen. The plants, which include many grasses
>> targeted for cellulosic ethanol, can be harvested when needed and,
>> given their hardiness, grow on marginal land.
>>
>> Yet many questions remain about the effectiveness of the fertility
>> system used by ArborGen, which, according to leading scientists, has
>> never been rigorously studied in multiyear trials to prove that it can
>> effectively control plants' spread. More research must be conducted
>> before such systems are relied upon to restrict pollen and seed
>> spread, they say.
>>
>> Despite these calls, ArborGen has been seeking government deregulation
>> of its eucalyptus, which is primarily engineered to resist freezing
>> temperatures, since 2008. If successful, ArborGen would likely
>> revolutionize the timber industry and the Southern landscape by
>> becoming the first company to roll out bioengineered trees on a
>> massive scale, observers say.
>>
>> In its rosiest scenarios, growers using ArborGen's presumably
>> expensive seeds would see huge gains in productivity and become the
>> preferred tree stock for a new generation of bioenergy refineries. The
>> South would become the new Appalachia; timber would serve as its coal.
>> Inklings of such progress have already arisen, including recent word
>> that the German utility RWE AG would build the world's largest
>> wood-pellet plant in Georgia to supplement its coal habits.
>>
>> By adopting eucalyptus as a tree stock, the United States would simply
>> be catching up with countries like Brazil, which has leveraged vast
>> tree plantations in recent decades to pivot from a net wood importer
>> to an exporter. While the South saw a rise in pine plantations during
>> this time, pine cannot compete with eucalyptus for sheer growth rate,
>> the company says.
>>
>> "The United States is behind the game on this," said Les Pearson,
>> ArborGen's director of regulatory affairs. "Lots of countries around
>> the world have been growing eucalyptus for many decades."
>>
>> Indeed, primarily because of competition from South America, demand
>> for traditional American tree pulp has gone slack. This sagging
>> industry could allow up to 10 million acres in the Southeast to be
>> repurposed for fast-growing eucalyptuses, according to corporate
>> estimates.
>>
>> But it still remains unclear if the nascent bioenergy industry will be
>> enough to make up for demand lost to Brazilian plantations, said
>> Curtis Seltzer, a timber consultant who has studied ArborGen and calls
>> its trees a "game changer."
>>
>> "It's not clear to me that biomass will pick up the slack for the
>> traditional markets [as they] ebb," Seltzer said. "But it could."
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