UNITED NATIONS, Mar 5 2015 (IPS) - Forest protection, increased biodiversity and wildlife conservation are just a few of the promises made by proponents of genetically engineered (GE) plants. But campaigners are not buying these promises.
On Tuesday, environmental activists gathered in Brazilian consulates and embassies demanding that the government reject the proposal of FuturaGene, a biotechnological company, to legalise GE eucalyptus trees.
A genetically modified variety of pine developed by Arborgen cannot be restricted by USDA, the agency has determined.
A pine tree genetically engineered for greater wood density can be grown without restrictions after the USDA decided it lacks authority to regulate the variety.
The finding has alarmed critics of genetically modified organisms who fear the new cultivar will cross-pollinate with trees in the wild, resulting in unknown consequences for forests.
The International Campaign to STOP GE Trees & Dogwood Alliance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Groups Condemn US for Bowing to Industry, Ignoring Widespread Public Opposition
New York (29 Jan. 2015) ¬– Groups from around the world  today joined together to denounce the US government for allowing the first genetically engineered tree, a loblolly pine, to be legalized with no government or public oversight, with no assessment of their risks to the public or the environment, and without regard to overwhelming public opposition to GE trees.
USDA Refuses to Regulate or Assess GE Tree
January 26, 2015 (Washington, DC) A genetically engineered (GE) tree may already be planted in field tests, and eventually be commercialized, in the U.S. without having gone through any regulatory oversight or environmental risk assessment. On January 13th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quietly posted its August reply to a letter from ArborGen, a biotechnology company that is developing GE forest trees for plantations, confirming that USDA will require no regulation of ArborGen’s GE loblolly pine.
As the holiday season approaches, I just can't keep those traditional Christmas tunes out of my head: "Jingle Bells," "Silent Night," "12 Days of Christmas," and of course "The Christmas Song," with its famous opening line, "chestnuts roasting on an open fire."
I grew up in New York. My family used to venture into the city during the Christmas season, and we really did purchase little bags of roasted chestnuts from street vendors. I just love the smell and the sweet, earthy flavor of chestnuts. Reminiscing about that led me to think about food, forests and GMOs.