Pulp & Paper Industry To Cultivate Genetically Modified Eucalyptus In Southestern USA
Fall hunt along a Minnesota logging road. Image credit:Little Moran
I grew up amidst the commercial poplar stands of God's Country. Sure, there were clear cuts; but, in June we got to pick blueberries in last year's openings; and, in summer, wild raspberries enveloped the logging roads. As the bracken turned brown in fall, we hunted roughed grouse along them. It was a commercially purposed ecosystem which I was a part of - and gleaning from without charge. Much of the northern USA's pulp and paper industry eventually went South, leaving the poplar behind for the higher-yielding Southern Pine plantations.
Now there is a move to replace southern pines, the pulp feedstock of choice, with genetically-modified eucalyptus. The cultivated eucalyptus won't be "invasive" by virtue of their reproductive departments having been switched off by the guys in white lab coats: a process which also makes the eucalyptus freeze resistant. No turkey hunting in those eucs, I'll bet. Maybe they could release sterile Koalas and create a tourist attraction to replace that pastime?From Scientific American, via Greenwire:
Two industry giants, International Paper Co. and MeadWestvaco Corp., are planning to transform plantation forests of the southeastern United States by replacing native pine with genetically engineered eucalyptus, a rapidly growing Australian tree that in its conventional strains now dominates the tropical timber industry.Lobbyists are already at work.
ArborGen has been seeking government deregulation of its eucalyptus, which is primarily engineered to resist freezing temperatures, since 2008.The concept of turning Southern forests into 'coal tree' plantations is just around the corner:
The South would become the new Appalachia; timber would serve as its coal.Unfortunately, sometimes the switch gets short circuited.
Given the number of trees that will be produced, there will likely be enough genetic instability to allow a very small number of the freeze-tolerant eucalyptuses to reproduce..,Once approval is gained from USDOA, this is likely to slowly scale up to cover millions of acres. Call me a grouse-loving tree hugger, but I prefer native ecosystems.