Groups are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) not to green light the commercial growth of a genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees.
The Global Justice Ecology Project and Campaign to Stop GE Trees are fighting ArborGen Inc.’s petition to grow eucalyptus trees that are genetically engineered to withstand freezing temperatures.
The company said a supply of high-quality and cost-effective hardwood is needed to sustain the pulp and paper industries and eucalyptus trees are among the fastest-growing trees.
Attempts have been made to grow a wide variety of eucalyptus species in several parts of the southeastern U.S., but the company said that in many cases these species have been unable to withstand the dramatic and sudden drops in temperature that are typical of the region.
The USDA said in a draft environmental impact statement released in April that it does not anticipate the trees posing any risk to human health and that the potential cumulative impacts from the cultivation of these trees “would either not differ or be slightly worse from those caused by the cultivation of planted or naturally-regenerated plantation pine.”
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