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E-M:/ Genetically engineered trees
- Subject: E-M:/ Genetically engineered trees
- From: Claire O'Leary <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sun, 02 Nov 2003 12:49:57 -0500
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- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: Claire O'Leary <email@example.com>
- User-Agent: Microsoft-Outlook-Express-Macintosh-Edition/5.02.2022
Title: Genetically engineered trees
From Claire O'Leary, member, Sierra Club National Genetic Engineering Committee:
Genetic engineering is a field that extends into many areas beyond food. One of the more frightening images to arise so far is that of the genetically mutated forest.
Genetically mutated trees
Scientists say that plans for "terminator" trees --engineered never to flower--could create a "silent spring" in the forests. While these trees would grow faster than traditional trees, they would be lifeless in comparison. Gone would be the bees, butterflies, moths, birds and squirrels that depend on pollen, seed and nectar of normally reproducing trees.
Monsanto has developed plans with the New Zealand Forest Research Agency to create sterile plantations of trees. These terminator trees, in addition to being non-reproducing, would be engineered to secrete toxic chemicals through their leaves that would kill caterpillars and other insects that eat leaves. The trees would also be designed to be herbicide-resistant, meaning that tree farmers could use increased quantities of herbicides to wipe out ground flora.
"If you replace vast tracts of natural forest with flowerless trees, there will be a serious effect on the richness and abundance of insects," says George McGavin, curator of entomology at Oxford University Museum. "If you put insect resistance in the leaves as well you will end up with nothing but booklice and earwigs. We are talking about vast tracts of land covered with plants that do not support animal life as a sterile means of culturing wood tissue. That is a pretty unattractive vision of the future and one I want no part of."
With the recycling of paper being one of the more effective products we recycle and with the possibility of using many other fast-growing crops such as industrial hemp for paper resources, there is no good reason to promote this dangerous use of this highly questionable new technology.