On August 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a petition by researchers at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) seeking federal approval to release their genetically engineered (GE) Darling 58 (D58) American chestnut tree into U.S. forests. Researchers claim the transgenic D58 tree will resist the fungal blight that, coupled with rampant overlogging, decimated the American chestnut population in the early 20th century. In fact, the GE American chestnut is a Trojan horse meant to open the doors to commercial GE trees designed for industrial plantations. The D58 would be the first GE forest tree approved in the U.S. and the first GMO intended to spread in the wild. (GE canola plants were discovered in the wild in 2010 but that was unplanned.)
U.S.–In an apparent effort to allay serious public and scientific concerns about contamination threats from genetically engineered (GE) trees, on August 3rd researchers at Oregon State University claimed they had genetically engineered sterility into poplar trees. The real story of the study, however, is that the risks of genetically engineering trees are too great and can never fully be known. During the seven year field trial of GE poplars described in the study, small environmental variations resulted in significant differences between trees that had the same GE constructs and also found differences between GE trees over time. This all points to how trees cannot be reliably engineered to prevent contamination.
By Staff of GJEP - Washington, DC — Well over a quarter of a million people and 500 organizations submitted comments yesterday rejecting the commercialization of ArborGen Inc.’s genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees, which, if approved, would be the first-ever GE forest tree approved in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed approval in April 2017, releasing a draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) for public comment. This comment period ended on 5 July. The GE eucalyptus trees are engineered to tolerate freezing temperatures in order to greatly expand their growing range. The approval of these GE trees could set a precedent for future approval of GE forest trees such as poplar and pine. In the dEIS, USDA downplayed or ignored the significant risks posed by these novel GE trees. The agency conservatively predicts commercial GE eucalyptus plantations would cover over one million acres across seven southern states—from coastal South Carolina to eastern Texas. This would have devastating consequences across this region, which is home to a number of the poorest counties in the country, as well as some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. The region is already precariously threatened by climate change and sprawl.
By Staff of Corporate Crime Reporter - A coalition of environmental, consumer, and commercial and recreational fishing organizations has sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approving the first-ever genetically engineered (GE) food animal, an Atlantic salmon engineered to grow quickly. The man-made salmon was created by AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. with DNA from three fish: Atlantic salmon, Pacific king salmon, and Arctic ocean eelpout.
By Alexa Erickson for Collective Evolution - Genetic engineering involves high-tech methods to integrate genes straight into an organism. It’s a term that has caused an overwhelming amount of controversy and concern in the food industry because of their effect on our health and the environment. And while the battle to get back to the basics and live from the earth once again is ongoing, there seems to be a new threat to this ideology. The biotech industry is trying to bulldoze down 184 million acres of native forests around the world and replace them with plantations of genetically engineered trees...
According to a new national poll by Consumer Reports released today, an overwhelming majority of U.S. consumers think that before genetically engineered (GE) food is sold, it should be labeled accordingly (92% of consumers) and meet long-term safety standards set by the government (92%). The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) currently does not require labeling or pre-market safety assessments of GE food. Similarly, 92% of Americans specifically agreed that the government should require that GE salmon be labeled before it is sold. The FDA is considering whether to approve a GE salmon, which is designed to grow to maturity twice as fast as normal salmon, and has said that it does not intend to require labeling. In addition, nearly three-quarters (72%) of consumers polled said that it’s crucial for them to avoid GE ingredients when purchasing food. The poll data can be found online here [PDF]. “This poll underscores that, across the country, consumers want labeling of GE food, including GE salmon, and consider safety standards set by the government of such food imperative,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports.