Some readers have written asking for more east coast stories.. I ran into this while looking for comments on the Planning Rule Directives. This is a petition for non-regulated status for GE freeze-tolerant eucalyptus lines. This morning there were 475 comments received (and 0 for the Planning Directives).
You can read the docket as well as the public comments:
Here’s one I excerpted:
The US Forest Service opposes GE eucalyptus plantations due to their impact on ground water and streams. Many regions of the country have been plagued by droughts in recent years. Developing plantations of an invasive, water-greedy and fire-prone tree is foolhardy and dangerous.
The forests of the Southeast, which would be most impacted by GE trees, are some of the most biodiverse in the world.
They contain species found nowhere else. Species like the Louisiana Black Bear, the golden-cheeked warbler and the red-cockaded woodpecker are already endangered. Eucalyptus plantations could push these and other species over the edge. For these reasons, the Georgia Department of Wildlife opposes GE eucalyptus trees due to these impacts.
Please give this serious thought and do not approve GE trees!
Does anyone know where the FS position or letter is available?
What struck me about these comments is that they are mostly arguments against eucalyptus plantations, not genetically engineered eucs per se.. although conceivably if the engineering worked as advertised, you could plant them more places. It’s interesting that folks can convert to ag crops (perhaps hemp?) or loblolly plantation, or subdivisions, but eucalyptus?
Now if you go to a this site, they say:
Tree biotechnology company ArborGen is requesting an unprecedented USDA approval: “freeze tolerant” GMO Eucalyptus Trees to be grown in seven southeastern states, and possibly the Pacific Northwest. If approved, this will be the first GE forest tree to be commercially grown in the U.S. Paper and biofuel companies are planning on growing these trees on intensively managed monoculture tree plantations.
The problem with economically-motivated proposals like this is that they have no consideration or understanding of the natural systems at work in the world. If we upset nature’s balance, there will be consequences that were not taken into account in the short-term rush for profit.
Eucalyptus trees are not native to North America, are harmful to native wildlife, and they’ve already become invasive in California. Industry plans to plant millions of these GE eucalyptus in ecosystems and climates that have never supported eucalyptus in the past. Fragile ecosystems and a host of endangered plant and animal species could be threatened by such large scale GE eucalyptus plantations.
A couple of thoughts.. if you go here, you see the folks who have been working on plain old tree breeding for eucs (the hardy Eucalyptus discussion board). Note that planting non-GE eucs, like other tree species, is not regulated.
I wonder if “paper companies” are actually planning to do this. IP just announced that they are working with Dogwood Alliance.. it makes me wonder. TIMO’s and REITs seem to be fairly conservative, and no one wants to plant trees that wait a while and then die in some future winter. Maybe folks are getting concerned based on ArborGen’s marketing, rather than real world plans. Just wondering..