Home > Uncategorized > U.S. Clears Test of Genetically Modified Trees in Southern US

U.S. Clears Test of Genetically Modified Trees in Southern US

The test is meant to see if the trees, eucalyptuses with a foreign gene meant to help them withstand cold weather, can become a new source of wood for pulp and paper, and for biofuels, in the Southern timber belt. Eucalyptus trees generally cannot now be grown north of Florida because of occasional freezing spells.

via www.nytimes.com

Although the above NYT article (link above) acknowledges that Genetically Modified (GM) trees are even more controversial than GM crops, most significantly because there is a higher likelihood of "gene flow" from transgenic to wild-type trees, the article presents a blazing example of why independent and reliable assessment must precede transfer, in the context of technologies that are billed for protecting the environment, as well as adapting to, or mitigating the effects of climate change.

In this vein, over 90 diverse organizations, including CIEL among other public health, scientist, labor, public interest, environmental, faith-based, civil liberties, hospital, and transparency organizations wrote to urge US Congressional Representatives to include funding for the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in the legislative branch appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2011.

For 23 years, the OTA provided trustworthy, non-partisan information on scientific and technological issues from Alzheimer’s disease to acid rain. Despite its good work, OTA was the victim of budget cuts in 1995, a move that saved the government a little more than $20 million annually. Since then, the government has spent billions on new technologies that have not worked as promised.

Given the pressure to find rapid solutions to green-house gas levels that continue to rise, it is important that the right technologies are adopted and disseminated.

For more information on GM trees – see: http://www.wrm.org.uy/subjects/GMTrees/text.html

For more information on the letter to US Congressional Representatives to revive the OTA, please see www.ucsusa.org/ota

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