First US genetically engineered tree, freeze-tolerant eucalyptus, near approval—but opponents claim environmental concerns

|
A grove of ArborGen eucalyptus trees

A genetically engineered, freeze-tolerant eucalyptus tree is moving closer to receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, amid concerns about the tree’s possible negative effects on the environment.

The USDA has proposed lifting restrictions on commercial production of the trees, based on a draft environmental impact statement that concluded the trees pose few significant environmental risks. Planting the trees would “either not differ or may be slightly worse from those caused by the cultivation of planted plantation pine,” the report said.

Brazil approved a genetically modified eucalyptus, created by biotechnology company FuturaGene, for commercial growth two years ago. But this would become the first genetically engineered tree approved for commercial use in the United States.

But environmental groups say the tree uses excessive amounts of water, increases wildfire risks, and could turn into an invasive species.

And scientists argue that biomass energy produces no climate benefits.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Environmentalists are urging the USDA to reject this genetically engineered eucalyptus tree