Genetic engineering

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Bosque
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Joined: Mon May 06, 2013 11:59 am

Genetic engineering

Post by Bosque » Wed May 29, 2013 1:17 pm

Does anyone have time to educate me about genetic engineering and trees? ArborGen, a South Carolina company, is hoping to sell "millions of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees for planting in the South" (Asheville Citizen-Times, May 29, 2013, p.B1). The International Union of Forest Research Organization Tree Biotechnology 2013 Conference is being held this week in Asheville, N.C. through Saturday. It's theme is Forest Biotechnology: Meeting the Needs of a Changing World. Two hundred people protested outside the conference for three hours. One thousand people in Asheville also recently joined the Monsanto protest last Sunday. I am definitely against what Monsanto is doing in the world, but I don't have enough facts about tree engineering. Is it true that only wild trees of the same species would be affected in their pollination by the genetically engineered trees? (sorry, I can't remember the scientific term for this). Would allowing this genetic modification set a dangerous precedent for other species? How dangerous is this practice for diversity?

Thank you in advance for your time.

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edfrank
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Re: Genetic engineering

Post by edfrank » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:36 pm

I have posted a number of links regarding this to our Facebook Group. I am in general opposed to the idea. I will post some of teh article links here for people to peruse.

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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edfrank
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Re: Genetic engineering

Post by edfrank » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:45 pm

Genetically Engineered Trees http://www.sierraclub.org/biotech/trees.aspx
Genetic engineering of food crops has been a stealth technology, introduced with little public debate and arriving on grocery shelves unlabeled. Now another application of genetically engineered (GE) agriculture is sneaking up on us - the production of transgenic trees by paper and lumber companies. The possibility that the new genes spliced into GE trees will interfere with natural forests isn't a hypothetical risk but a certainty. During our lives, genetic engineering may do as much damage to forests and wildlife habitat as chain saws and sprawl.
The GM tree plantations bred to satisfy the world's energy needs
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... rld-energy
FuturaGene has spent 11 years trialling thousands of GM eucalyptus and poplar trees on 100-hectare plots in Israel, China and outside São Paulo in Brazil, and is now at the last stages of the Brazilian regulatory process for commercial planting. Thanks to a gene taken from the common, fast-growing Arabidopsis weed, the company has found a way to alter the structure of plant cell walls to stimulate the natural growth process. The company says its modified eucalyptus trees can grow 5 metres (16ft) a year, with 20%-30% more mass than a normal eucalyptus. In just five and a half years they are 27 metres high.
http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research- ... enetically
In 2003, the Pentagon even awarded Colorado State researchers $500,000 to develop pine trees that change color when exposed to biological or chemical attack. However, critics argue that not enough is known about designer trees’ effect on their natural surroundings — they could spread their genes to natural trees or increase wildfire risk, among other drawbacks. Still, the USDA in June gave approval for ArborGen, a biotechnology company, to begin field trials for 250,000 trees in seven southern states.
Genetically Modified Tree Ban Urged at UN Convention on Biodiversity
http://www.treehugger.com/environmental ... d-for.html

GM Earth: Genetically Modified Trees on The Horizon
http://tv.naturalsociety.com/geneticall ... vironment/
There is no question that the genetically modified foods infiltrating our food supply are causing negative health effects and compromising the quality of the ecosystem. Numerous studies reveal how genetically modified crops are leading to issues like pesticide-resistant superweeds, superbugs, and even cancerous tumors when consumption is involved. But the genetic modification we’re working so hard to prevent goes beyond the food supply; even trees are being genetically engineered, and some experts say that these genetically modified trees are even more environmentally-damaging than GM foods
Genetically engineered trees and the lifeless forest
https://www.lifeinthemix.info/2013/04/g ... ss-forest/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w437uQf_A7c

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w437uQf_A7c


This is a selection - almost all of the publicity is negative, but often public opinion does not reflect reality. The big problem is that the trees live such a long time we can't adequately model the long term effects on other trees or the environment.

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Don
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Re: Genetic engineering

Post by Don » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:00 pm

My own take falls somewhere between. Fear of the unknown is not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it is real. Not enough to NOT investigate how the GenMods will impact their environment. Where would we be had not Mendel looked into what became genetics, Darwin not looked into evolution and the role of genetic mutations in 'the survival of the fittest, Burbank not looking into hybridization. I just ate a juicy sweet tart nectarine that would not likely have evolved on it's own.

But not performing enough research on what a GenMod might effect, is akin to introducing 'alien invaders', and we do know how invasive species are affecting our environment.
The biggest negative though is the role of corporate America has taken in introducing GenMods on the sly, without adequate research, or seemingly without concern for their consumers. That's criminal...we have no more control over the corporations than we do substandard imports from China.
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

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View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

Bosque
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Re: Genetic engineering

Post by Bosque » Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:51 pm

Thanks so much Ed and Don for all the information.

Carol

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