Presentation on theme: "Biofuels and GE Trees Why Genetically Engineered Trees as Biofuels Will Not Help Stop Global Warming."— Presentation transcript:
Biofuels and GE Trees Why Genetically Engineered Trees as Biofuels Will Not Help Stop Global Warming
Growing genetically engineered trees for biofuels threatens to destroy native forests. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
Destruction of native forests for GE tree plantations would both release the carbon held in the soils and decrease the carbon absorption rate, thereby exacerbating global warming. Photo: Courtesy ForestEthics
Slide: courtesy Konapewman Photo: Langelle/GJEP According to a report by the World Resources Institute and the US EPA, native forests store up to four times the carbon of plantations. Genetically engineered trees threaten to contaminate native forests with engineered traits that will disrupt forest ecosystems and damage their ability to store carbon.
Biofuels made from GE trees would use up to 57% more fossil fuels to produce than would be created.* Making biofuels from trees will increase use of fossil fuels and increase global warming. The devastation of Hurricane Mitch in Central America in 1999 was worsened by deforestation. Deforestation exacerbates global warming, which contributes to stronger hurricanes and storms. Photo: Langelle/GJEP * According to a study by researchers at Cornell University and UC Berkeley.
GE tree plantations grown for biofuels or carbon sinks also threaten to displace local & indigenous communities. Photo: Langelle/ GJEP
Use of GE trees for biofuels also threatens food security. The US Department of Energy is encouraging farmers to grow GE trees and crops for biofuels instead of food. In addition, trees engineered to grow faster would rapidly strip nutrients and water from the land. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
GE Tree plantations will prevent local and indigenous peoples from accessing important forest resources such as foods, medicines, shelter materials and fuel. Photos: Langelle/ Global Justice Ecology Project & FASE-ES
While native forests are the most important ecosystems for stabilizing the climate, large scale monoculture GE tree plantations would be highly prone to catching fire. In Indonesia in 1997, wildfires emitted more carbon than the entire EU that year. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
GE tree plantations used for biofuels or carbon sinks may contain toxic pesticides or be heavily sprayed with toxic herbicides. Soils and water could become contaminated. The pollen from insect resistant GE trees may be toxic to people that inhale it. Eucalyptus seedling covered in herbicide near Mapuche community in Chile. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
Mapuche people ask: Who will gain from these plantations? Slide: courtesy Konapewman
Corporations such as ArborGen (US), and Aracruz Cellulose (based in Brazil) as well as the governments of the US and Chile are engineering trees to have less lignin. This will make them easier to manufacture into both paper and biofuels. However, GE low-lignin trees rot faster, releasing their CO2 back into the atmosphere very rapidly. The escape of the low-lignin trait into native forests would cause severe damage to them, worsening global warming. Photo: Petermann/GJEP
Other corporations involved in genetically engineering trees include: International Paper (US), MeadWestvaco (US), Rubicon (New Zealand), Scion (New Zealand), Suzano (Brazil), and Cellfor (Chile), to name a few. Also involved in GE tree research and development are the governments of Chile and Canada, the Chinese Academy of Forestry, plus numerous universities in the United States and around the world. The government of Canada has argued that the ban on Terminator Technology should be overturned so that it can be used in genetically engineering sterile trees.
Countries with outdoor test plots of genetically engineered trees include: United States (eucalyptus, pine, sweetgum, poplar) Canada (spruce) Chile (eucalyptus, pine) Brazil (eucalyptus) India (poplar, pine) Finland (birch) South Africa (eucalyptus) Thailand (eucalyptus, teak) Malaysia (teak, rubber, oil palm) Indonesia (oil palm, teak) Bangladesh (oil palm) China is the only country known to have large-scale plantations of GE trees (insect resistant Bt poplars) Because tree pollen and seeds can travel for hundreds to thousands of kilometers, countries sharing the borders of those with test plots must also be concerned.
For this reason, people around the world are joining together to stop GE trees. Photo: Petermann/GJEP Neither GE trees nor large-scale biofuels offer solutions to global warming. They are a distraction from finding real solutions to climate change. GE trees threaten the world’s forests with contamination with unnatural traits. They also threaten the world’s forest dwelling and indigenous communities.
Global Justice Ecology Project The STOP GE Trees Campaign, a program of In the Southern Hemisphere contact: World Rainforest Movement