Trees, the life-givers of the entire planet, are now being genetically engineered (GE). My husband and I watched a video last night called "A Silent Forest" (http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Forest-Growing-Genetically-Engineered/dp/B002CGT0VA), which was produced in 2009. There are around 100 test plots of GE trees around the U.S. right now and the paper industry plans to plant large forests of GE trees to harvest for paper production. Here's the scary things that were pointed out in the movie about these trees:
· These trees produce their own Bt toxin (pesticide), which is produced by every cell of the tree, including the roots 24 hours/day for the entire life of the tree. This will kill most insects and wildlife. It will destroy the microorganisms in the soil. What insects are left will be "super bugs" resistant to Bt toxin.
· These trees will be produced with "terminator" technology, which means they will be sterile trees that produce no nuts, fruits, or pollen. Because these trees do not put any energy into reproduction or fruit bearing, they will be very fast growers, quickly depleting the soil of both nutrients and water, leaving behind a desert after the trees are harvested. This will force the tree producers to move on to another plot of land, ultimately destroying more and more natural habitats. Even though these trees supposedly do not reproduce, we know that life 'finds a way' to survive; even the tiniest error could lead to contamination of non-GE trees.
· These trees will be produced to be 'low-lignan' trees because lignan makes paper production more difficult. Lignan is what gives trees their strength and rigidity. Low lignan trees will have higher susceptibility to disease, wildlife damage, and wind-breakage. Higher numbers of sick, rotting trees will lead to increased CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
If you want to be a devil's advocate, you could say that it's too early to predict what consequences may result from GE trees. And that's exactly why we should be concerned, because we are just in the beginning stages of understanding this technology, and we certainly do not understand what all the potential long-term consequences could be for our planet. Once this technology is out in the world and starts intermingling with nature, we can't take back or reverse what we have done. As was said in a margarine commercial back in the 70's…it's not nice to fool Mother Nature!
If you would like to get involved or learn more information about the dangers of GE trees, here's a couple websites:
Global Justice Ecology Project / Stop GE Trees Campaign: http://www.globaljusticeecology.org/stopgetrees.php?tabs=0
World Rainforest Movement: http://www.wrm.org.uy/
I also highly recommend the video above. “A Silent Forest” won first place in the EarthVision Environmental Film Festival and a First Place in the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival. The film is created by award-winning director Ed Schehl who has been making and promoting documentaries on environmentalism and social justice for 15 years.
"A Silent Forest" on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5rHZE9H7OA