Letter to The Editors of the Agricultural Magazine in Case of The Breeding of Genetically Modified Eucalyptus in Brazil
I am writing to express my concern about the breeding of genetically modified eucalyptus in Brazil. The new breed of eucalyptus was bred to grow faster. It is a very tough issue because genetic engineering is unpredictable. Hence, GE trees can cause negative consequences in the nearby future, for example, threaten the biodiversity of the forests leading to the climate change and have an adverse effect on GE trees themselves.
First of all, genetically modified trees are grown to serve the needs of the paper industry. This technique hides a lot of dangers; therefore, it is important to breed GE plants using the horizontal gene transfer. The vertical gene transmission is a natural thing since it is the transfer of genes from the parent generation to children. On the contrary, horizontal gene transmission includes injecting a gene from one species into an entirely different breed. Consequently, it is dangerous because horizontal gene transfer may cause mutations and lead to species extinction. It can often lead to unpredictable results and have a bad influence on GE trees. Moreover, the genes do not live in their own world but they are the part of the entire genome. The features and genes state depend on the environment where they are put. The safety of genetic engineering is a myth. Finally, the timber industry is flourishing with GE trees but one day mankind will have to pay for that.
Secondly, genetic engineering of trees is the most obvious danger to the trees since the invention of the chain saw (Matthews, 2000). The trees are genetically modified to possess unnatural characteristics, for instance, the ability to kill pests, tolerate toxic things, grow quickly or have the altered structure. As a matter of fact, the wood industry is trying to produce trees with the minimum amount of lignin. The changed lignin structure is supposed to make the procedure of processing into paper and biofuels easier. In addition, this structure influences the forests, plantations, ecosystems, human beings, and biodiversity as well as composes the structure of the tree. As a result, the tree is not able to resist the wind, hurricane or other disasters. Moreover, the trees with the little amount of lignin decay faster and release a big amount of carbon dioxide resulting in the climate change. Consequently, genetic engineering is harmful not only to the trees but the natural environment as well.
Evidently, the tree contamination would be a significant challenge. As a result, the terminator gene which makes seeds inevitable was invented. More than 89 percent of the trees may become unproductive meaning they will produce no nuts and no seeds, which may have an adverse impact on the soils and wildlife. The pollen from such trees may be the reason of unknown allergies. In addition, GE may cause harmful effect on the recipient ecosystem. GE trees are more resistant to the pests, climate, and negative factors. They are also more competitive and suppress non-GE trees causing the misbalance in eco-system (Gunther, 2007). In the result, naturally bred trees succumb genetically modified ones.
Furthermore, the commercial and industrial bioenergy developed an enormous demand for wood and transformed forests as well as other ecosystems into fuel woods. This problem will be solved by converting the land into GE tree plantations. Genetically modified trees such as pines, oaks, and eucalyptus in the nearest future will be used for producing biomass such as wood pellets, ethanol, and different kinds of fuels (GE Trees, 2013). Hence, energy industry encourages the technologies such as GE trees. The vast amount of the ecosystem will be replaced with the plantations of genetically engineered (GE) trees. From the very beginning, the idea of using GE trees for biofuels was outrageous as well as the assumption that one can simply substitute the trees with GE trees.
Growing those trees to produce biofuels has had a tremendous impact on the ecosystems such as forests, water and plantations. The solution can be the prohibition of using the trees for paper. The paper industry may replace the timber with more earth-friendly materials such as industrial wastes and other waste materials. GE modified plants contaminate nearby groves leading to loosing of the plantations by numerous farmers. As a result, GE destroys sustainable economies.
To sum up, forests clean water and regulate ecosystem. They are a natural place for Brazilian biodiversity and a lot of indigenous people. Therefore, the mankind needs to protect and preserve forests drastically decreasing overconsumption. "Genetically engineered trees pose unpredictable and unnecessary threats to the environment, biodiversity, and human health," (Gunther, 2007) says the Stop GE Trees Campaign. Moreover, GE trees lead industry and science to the wrong direction causing havoc in nature. Lastly, I strongly advise your readers to contact the FuturaGene representatives and urge them to stop developing the GE trees which create a substantial risk to the environment.
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