Smell the scent of flowering honeysuckle, hear the chirping of birds, and the wind in the boughs coupled with the crunch of foliage beneath the feet. The air is pristine, the sky is clear blue, and the sounds of nature are all around. A forest is timeless almost, before mankind ever existed or made written records of his experiences, the natural habitat created and supported by trees was here. They are the very backbone of ecosystems and oxygen production, yet trees have a new ethos with the advent of bioengineering, as man tampers with their genomes unnaturally. Now, visualize a world at this moment without trees; blackened skies, scarred terrain, and thinner air to breathe. This is not a prediction, simply one of the possible futures, which lie in wait for mankind should the environment's fragile balance held naturally, go awry. The paper industry's demand for increased production has spawned a new creature; it is the genetically modified tree (or GM tree). A closer look at bioengineered trees and their effect on the environment shows that there is not enough data to assuage society's fears with logic and authority on protecting biodiversity. There are unknown ramifications that come hand in hand with experimenting on the genome of plants. To better understand the subject of GM trees it is necessary to know what bioengineering is and what it does, the pros and cons of altering trees and the possible effects on the future this may have
[...] A fascinating fact to recall is the probable motivations of opponents and proponents of genetically modified trees. The latter consists of, in the large majority; researchers hired by the industries that stand to benefit the most from increased paper production. Whereas the former, are scientists not hired by a corporation but motivated by a concern for protecting biodiversity, which is intimately linked with the continued existence of humanity. It is not reasonable to unquestioningly accept the mandate of corporate scientists, who rely on only partially tested experiments to provide a safer environment for society's future children. [...]
[...] From the web archives of Leonard Miller, a Geography major, the normal lifespan of a tree can range anywhere from 20 years to the oldest living tree, “Methuselah" at 4,767 years old Keeping this in mind, this researcher concludes there is not enough evidence to prove a genetically modified tree's safety to existing biospheres. Rachel Carson's award winning Silent Spring examines the damaging effect of DDT on insects and the natural habitat. It was a warning that the U.S. government heeded, eventually banning DDT. [...]
[...] Genetically modified trees have garnered much financial support, according to Jennifer Ferrara, a writer for The Ecologist. In “Revolving Doors: Monsanto and the Regulators” Ferrara describes Monsanto, a company who tried to copy-write the soybean, as one of the players behind the massive support by high dollar companies for faster growing trees to be made. Included also are Shell, Toyota, ForBio, (an Australian biotechnology company) and ArborGen. Shell and Toyota want GM trees so that instead of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, they simply support oxygen creating life forms that are man-made and mass produced. [...]
[...] It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth (Carson, 262). Bibliography Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring, Fawcett Publications Inc., Connecticut 1962. Egea-Cortines, M., and J. Weiss. A Rapid Coming of Age in Tree Biotechnology. Nat. Biotechnology. 19:215–216, 2001. Ferrara, Jennifer, “Revolving Doors: Monsanto and the Regulators,” The Ecologist, Vol.28 No Gartland, Kevan M.A, Robert M. [...]
[...] In a July 1999 article from the Associated Press called “Genetically Modified Trees Grow Faster, Environmentally Friendly,” a researcher for the Michigan Technological University spoke about their process of modifying trees. Vincent Chiang, the director of the Plant Biotechnology, was interviewed on lignin. Lignin is the substance in trees that supplies strength to their structure (i.e. withstanding wind) etc. In the process of making paper, apparently lignin is taken out using chemicals that, when discarded, have polluted near by tributaries. [...]
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