While the idiocy and racism surrounding the president and white supremacists in Charlottesville, NC dominates the news cycle, PBS Newshour has included the USDA’s push to approve genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in this week’s ‘5 Important Stories You Might Have Overlooked’.
Groups such as the Global Justice Ecology Project and Campaign to Stop GE Trees started to push back against the trees, developed by biotechnology firm ArborGen, in July, according to The Genetic Literacy Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to science discussion. Only three of the hundreds of thousands of comments collected were in favor of the trees.
For now, details on the trees’ production remain unclear. The USDA is still considering public comments, and plans to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on how the trees’ production could make an impact on wildlife.
The company behind the genetically engineered eucalyptus, ArborGen, claims their GE eucalyptus will meet expanding market demands for pulp and paper, as well as the fast-growing demand for wood pellets for “biomass.” ArborGen’s eucalyptus are engineered for cold tolerance with the intent of extending their range into the Southern US, from South Carolina to Texas.
Eucalyptus plantations are invasive, notorious for depleting waterways and highly flammable–as demonstrated by recent wildfires in Chile and Portugal.