Global Justice Ecology Project’s Anne Petermann, Rachel Smolker and Ruddy Turnstone (as Rachel Kijewski) authored an op-ed published by The Hill on 28 March on the topic of genetically engineered trees. The authors were also presenters on 27 March for a National Academy of Sciences webinar titled Risks, Concerns, and Potential Problems Regarding the Use of Biotechnology to Address Forest Health.

Here is excerpt from the op-ed:

Other damaging activities actually were intended to “help” the forests. Suppressing natural wildfires, for example, served to build up vast stores of fuel in the forests, resulting in unprecedented and devastating firestorms. Salvage logging of the American chestnut while the chestnut blight was rampaging likely killed off chestnuts resistant to the blight along with the rest — a double jeopardy for this majestic tree.

The use of biotechnology in forests, as the National Academies is examining, is yet another ill-conceived human intervention likely to add to, not alleviate, forest health crises. The body is debating the intentional release of trees genetically engineered in ways that could never occur in nature, with no knowledge of the long-term social or ecological risks.

Forests are incredibly complex ecosystems that we barely understand. Trees live for decades or even centuries. They can spread their pollen and seeds up to hundreds of miles. They interact with pollinators, songbirds, insects, mammals, not to mention human communities that depend on them.

Read the full op-ed at The Hill.