USDA Approves Drought-Causing Trees
ArborGen is being allowed to release the GE eucalyptus trees in gigantic swaths of land within Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas. Unbelievably, these are the states that have also been hit hard by droughts and raging wildfires.
Attorneys from the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Dogwood Alliance filed action against the USDA last year to fight the release. The court ordered a mediation to settle the case. On June 22, 2011, the USDA refused to accept a settlement. What is driving the USDA’s stubbornness to work with concerned citizens?
Eucalyptus trees have been shown to intrude upon pine forests, as they aggressively mark their territories with their oil-rich leaf droppings. For this reason, the state of California has spent many years and resources trying to fight off the invasion of eucalyptus species.
Eucalyptus trees create wildfire conditions because their bark and leaves are particularly dry and they litter the ground with kindling. This has proven the case in Australia’s wildfires in 2009, where hundreds of millions of acres of the trees burned out of control for many months.
They also produce drought conditions because their roots dive incredibly deep and drink water from underground drinking water aquifers. This fact has been proven by plantations in the Lumaco District of Chile. Here indigenous Mapuche communities have run out of water after eucalyptus plantations spring up around their settlements.
The species also hosts the fungus, Cryptococcus gattii, which has poisoned forests in the Pacific Northwest, and also infected people.
The genetically modified version that ArborGen is planting is called “cold-tolerant.” This of course produces a more aggressive and more resilient version of the already-invasive tree species.
It is quite unbelievable that the USDA would succumb to such an approval. Concerned citizens are advised to get involved: