Plantations of fast-growing trees occupying about 7 percent of the world's forest area could supply humanity with all the wood and paper products we need. In other words, shifting to aboreal agriculture would spare land for natural forests to grow where they would shelter biodiversity. Now some biotech companies have created a variety of eucalyptus that is genetically enhanced to resist frost-damage. They have applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking approval to grow them on plantations in southeastern United States. As I reported earlier:
Eucalyptus grows very fast and its wood is used to produce pulp and paper. It produces about 17 tons of wood per acre per year and is harvested after seven years. Natural hardwood forests produce about two tons of wood per year and are harvested after 40 years of growth. In addition, the biotech eucalyptus is engineered to produce no pollen or seeds so that it cannot escape into the wild.
Naturally, Neoluddite environmentalists are against it. From the STOP GE Trees campaign press release:
"We have tried to ban GE trees globally through various bodies of the United Nations, and now groups are coordinating internationally to stop any and all applications to legalize GE trees," stated Winfridus Overbeek, Brazil-based Coordinator of the World Rainforest Movement and Steering Committee member for the Campaign. "It's crucial that these potentially disastrous trees not be commercially released because the health and viability of entire forest ecosystems and the communities who depend on them will be at risk."
Yes, the health and viability of entire forests are at risk; not from planting biotech trees, but from this know-nothing anti-technology campaign.
Disclosure: One of the members of the STOP GE Trees neoluddite coalition, Global Justice Ecology Project, has already denounced me for my pro-biotech tree article, "Science, Not Mysticism, Will Save the American Chestnut."