Organizational Sign-ons Needed to STOP GE Eucalyptus Before JULY 5

In the wake of the tragic eucalyptus fires in Portugal that killed more than 60 people and devastating eucalyptus fires in Chile in January, we are asking organizations to help keep a similar disaster from happening in the US by stopping the legalization of GE eucalyptus plantations here. Please sign below.  Thanks to Center for Food Safety for preparing the sign on letter!

Synopsis of letter below. Read the full letter and sign on here

Please forward to your networks. International Organizations welcome.

Dear Ms. Eck:

We [the undersigned] strongly oppose USDA’s proposed commercial approval of ArborGen’s genetically engineered (GE), freeze tolerant eucalyptus, which would be the first-ever genetically engineered forest tree in the US to gain such an approval. As described in these comments, the novel risks and significant adverse impacts of ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus trees are high, with no benefits to society. To prevent irreparable harm to vulnerable ecosystems, GE eucalyptus should not be approved.

To make the GE “freeze tolerant” eucalyptus, ArborGen genetically engineered a hybrid eucalyptus tree with gene sequences from 6 different species of bacteria and plants. ArborGen plans to market its GE eucalyptus in southeastern states, from Texas to South Carolina. There are no eucalyptus species native to North America, and many of the plants and animals which reside on this continent, including endangered species, will be unable to find suitable habitats—appropriate food, nesting sites, germination sites, and so on—within eucalyptus plantations or eucalyptus-invaded natural areas. In fact, decades of experience with even non-genetically engineered eucalyptus plantations throughout the world provide clear evidence of their serious environmental, social, and economic impacts, which cannot be ignored.

Allowing GE eucalyptus plantations would cause significant adverse environmental and socioeconomic impacts. For example:

• They will be intensively managed using industrial forestry practices—heavy machinery, fertilizers and pesticides—that degrade soils and pollute air and water, harming many plants and animals, and affecting nearby communities.

• Eucalyptus plantations use more water than other trees in the southeast, decreasing stream flow and ground water, and stressing ecosystems already suffering from more frequent and intense droughts because of climate change.

• Eucalyptus are highly flammable, and canopy fires spread quickly. Pines that grow in the same area compound the potential for catastrophic fires.

• These genetically uniform plantations will be magnets for plant pests and pathogens that were not present or were rare in the southeast before. Along with that will come greater use of toxic pesticides and risky biological control agents.

• GE eucalyptus’ progeny will likely escape plantations and become invasive, as have non-GE eucalyptus in some parts of the U.S. already. If GE eucalyptus spread into natural areas they will displace native trees and the species that depend on them, deplete water resources, and increase fire hazards that put nearby communities in danger.

Read the full letter and sign on here

Please forward to your networks. International Organizations welcome.