The sign reads, "Plantations of Eucalyptus are not Forests." Photo: Orin Langelle

The sign reads, “Plantations of Eucalyptus are not Forests.” Photo: Orin Langelle/ photolangelle.org

GE tree company ArborGen announced today that it is expanding its agreement with International Paper Brazil (IP).  IP will be granting ArborGen additional access to the library of IP’s Eucalyptus genetic material. Eucalyptus is the most widely planted hardwood plantation tree in the world and is known to be highly invasive, flammable and reduce local groundwater.

The agreement between IP and ArborGen will allow an increased effort to develop and sell new varieties of seedlings with “improved traits” capable of being grown in regions of Brazil where there is “growing interest” in Eucalyptus plantations, according to an ArborGen press release. ArborGen projects that it has sold 47 million Eucalyptus seedlings since beginning commercial sales in 2013.

According to ArborGen investor Rubicon, ArborGen is planning to request permission to sell eucalyptus genetically engineered for herbicide tolerance in Brazil.  These GE eucalyptus, also engineered for faster growth, would intensify the already serious social and ecological impacts of eucalyptus plantations.

Non-GMO eucalyptus plantations have had devastating impacts on communities across the world. In Chile, Mapuche communities surrounded by eucalyptus and pine plantations face water shortages and have to truck in water for part of the year. Political repression for organizing against plantations in Mapuche communities has resulted in harassment, arrests, and murders of Mapuche leaders.

In South Africa, eucalyptus is widely invasive, and intense water use has been well documented. Increased drought and disappearance of surface and ground water plague areas where eucalyptus plantations are established.

An ArborGen press release praises the expansion of the forestry industry in Brazil, which has damaged the livelihood of Indigenous Peoples and crippled ecological systems throughout the region.

The Brazilian forestry industry is one of the largest, fastest growing in the world; Brazil is the world’s largest producer and exporter of hardwood pulp. The Eucalyptus market utilizes approximately 700 million seedlings per year. With the original agreement, private landowners gained access to elite Eucalyptus clones that were once only available to integrated producers. This new agreement will increase that access and allow for additional development of advanced genetics for landowners.

Meanwhile, ArborGen plans to sell hundreds of millions of Genetically Engineered (GE) Eucalyptus seedlings every year across the southeastern US, from Texas to South Carolina appear to have been mothballed. ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus designed for faster growth and freeze tolerance has failed to gain USDA approval since it’s initial request in 2011.

Share This