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Monsanto’s GM Trees A New Threat To World Ecosystem

By James Donahue

Activists for New Zealand’s STOP GE Trees Campaign were blamed for the recent destruction of 375 radiata pines at the Scion forestry research institute. Authorities said people cut through an outer perimeter fence and burrowed under an inner security barrier before cutting down or pulling the young saplings up by the roots.

Without admitted blame, GJEP’s executive director Anne Petermann noted the "extreme security" at the Scion site. She told the media that "It is clear that Scion is aware of the powerful public opposition to genetically engineered trees. People understand the inherent ecological, social and health risks associated with genetically engineered trees. If the government won’t stop them, this action shows that people are prepared to take matters into their own hands."

While it received almost no attention by the U.S. media, the incident on the other side of the world brought to light the field testing of genetically modified trees being conducted by ArborGen, a spin-off of Monsanto Corporation, that has been going on in New Zealand since 2006. Now genetically modified trees engineered in New Zealand are being "field tested" in the United States.

The federal government has approved the planting of 200,000 GM eucalyptus trees in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Several environmental groups including the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity, have filed suit to overturn the approval.

The lawsuit charges that ArborGen was given approval for test planting at secret locations without environmental impact studies. The suit expresses concern that the modified trees will flower and seed and become an invasive species, not only driving out the natural eucalyptus but cross breeding with other species of trees, thus upsetting the natural balance of the forests.

Some tree pollen has been found to travel as far as 600 miles.

Peterman warned in a statement to Food Freedom Group that some of Monsanto’s modified trees contain the controversial Bt toxin, found in Monsanto GM corn. Placing such trees in a forest "could be a tremendous threat to forest ecosystem soils in which beneficial fungi are a key component of the forest," she said.

"Genetically engineered trees are the greatest threat to the world’s remaining forests since the invention of the chainsaw," Peterman said.

Opponents to trees modified to contain the Bt toxin, an insect poison, argue that such a forest would wipe out the already declining creatures that pollinate. These would include the bees, moths, butterflies and bats. The toxins would get in the branches and leaves that fall to the earth to become mulch, thus attacking the worms, fungi and other insects that live there.

One critic wrote that "It would be a silent forest, a killing forest, an alien forest" if such trees are allowed.

In spite of resistance to genetically modified seed and plants, especially in Europe, the contamination has spread around the globe, according to GM Watch and GM Contamination Register. Thus the gene has already been let out of the bottle and can no longer be contained.

It has been found that genetically modified organisms are dominant over the natural species, thus they have forever altered the Earth’s natural plants. What is worse, Monsanto has been cashing in on this by forcing farmers whose fields become "infected" by the Monsanto developed seed to pay as if they, too, had planted the toxic seed. Armed with a powerful supporting legal team, the company has won court battles against farmers, thus gaining the support of the courts in this matter.

It appears that the elected and appointed leaders of the world have been well paid by Monsanto to roll over and allow this company to take over the world’s food crops. Now it appears that Monsanto, under the brand name ArborGen, is out to destroy what is left of the natural world.

The corporate labs are not only producing genetically modified trees, but also grass for golf courses. What makes anyone think this grass won’t cross pollinate with all of the world’s grasses, making every growing thing the legal property of Monsanto?