(NaturalNews) In 2010, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted approval to ArborGen, a multinational company that produces genetically-modified (GM) trees, to plant its GM eucalyptus trees on dozens of test sites across the southeastern US. Though not yet officially approved for commercial cultivation and distribution, these GM trees planted on test sites are still destroying local ecology and spreading GM spores -- and they must be stopped.
At least 260,000 GM eucalyptus trees, which are not at all native to the region, have already been planted on test sites in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina, and ArborGen is currently seeking commercial approval from the USDA to commercially cultivate the trees. The company also has projects in the works to introduce GM versions of native tree varieties like poplar and pine, should the USDA comply with its current requests.
Besides the inherent dangers associated with GMOs in general, which include the uncontrolled spread of GM traits throughout the environment, eucalyptus trees are particularly troublesome because of the unique threats they pose. If given free reign to establish GM eucalyptus plantations, ArborGen's endeavors could have a disastrous effect on the environment.
In order to establish its plantations, ArborGen will have to clear-cut untold acres of biodiverse forests that sustain many unique types of life. By replacing these forests with a single tree species, and which in this case has undergone genetic tampering, there is no telling the extent to which these "green deserts" will negatively alter local ecosystems and contaminate them with GM traits.
Eucalyptus trees are also water hogs, and tend to be a big reason why California experiences intense and frequent wildfires. According to the Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign, eucalyptus trees' high oil levels combined with their deep tap roots tend to exacerbate drought conditions, which leads to increased fire threats.
And like GM crops, cultivation of GM eucalyptus requires the application of special pesticides and herbicides, which are a huge environmental pollutant. Cultivating thousands, if not millions, of acres of land worldwide with GM trees of any kind, as well as pesticides, is a recipe for environmental disaster.
Unleashing GM trees throughout the world is just a bad idea, no matter how you look at it. There is no societal or environmental benefit derived from cultivating GMOs -- they only serve the interests of their manufacturers by enriching profits and increasing monopolistic control over agriculture.