January 26, 2019

GM Trees (Plantations Part 2)


“Already forests are suffering the impacts of climate change, over-harvesting, and the introduction of invasive species, diseases, and pests from out of control globalization. The last thing the forests need are risky GE trees.”
– BJ McManama, Save Our Roots Campaign Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, opposing the cynical opportunist program to engineer blight-resistant American chestnuts.
In Part One we discussed the evils of industrial monoculture tree plantations. They are purely alien to the land, purely invasive even where they amass “native” species in such an anti-ecological way, purely destructive.
GMOs by definition are invasive and will escalate every one of the pathologies we surveyed in part one: Destruction of forest, wetland, grassland habitats; generation of desert; all at the expense of food for human beings; destruction of carbon sinks thus driving the climate crisis; biodiversity loss and mass extinction; genetic monoculture; driving people off their land and destroying their way of life; sowing poverty, hunger, malnutrition; radically escalating wildfires; slathering of agricultural poisons; corporate consolidation and land concentration, land-grabbing, socioeconomic inequality; the sham “climate movement” fiddling while Earth burns.
Genetic engineering automatically is non-native and invasive to Earth itself, to ecology and evolution. So in itself, even leaving aside ulterior motives and deliberate lies, GM “solutions” automatically are just building the Tower of Babel higher and more top-heavy.
GM trees are designed to expand the invasion range and biodiversity erasure. That’s why the corporations and governments do the research: These are guaranteed primary effects and therefore are primary intended effects. That’s why they’ve set up the plantations in the first place.
Plantation trees automatically spread their pollen to any related species within wind range. This is long documented with non-GM trees everywhere – poplar, willow, acacia, birch, pine, others. This genetic contamination inevitably will include GM contamination to whatever extent GM trees are deployed in the environment. This contamination already is documented in China with GM poplars. China is a world center of poplar diversity, and this already imperiled diversity is now under GMO attack as well. Meanwhile US attempts to engineer poplar sterility, allegedly in order to prevent such contamination from GM poplar plantations, have been a failure.
Pro-GMO activists, disaster capitalist ideologues they are, cite the many crises driven by globalization, its industrial agriculture including tree plantations, the climate crisis and other ecological crises these are causing, as the reasons society now must deploy GM trees, in order to “solve” these problems in a Tower of Babel way.
This already is a proven lie: Poison-based agriculture as such is a proven agronomic failure going back to the 1950s when it became incontrovertible how this model denudes the soil and sets humanity on a pesticide treadmill and arms race the resistant pests will always win. The GMO deployment since the mid 1990s has only intensified this failure. As always, the poison treadmill and the Tower of Babel never are intended to solve the crises they cause in the first place. On the contrary they depend on crisis for their power and expansion.
Thus tree monocultures have taken advantage of their own disaster. These can’t even pretend to be food the way GM crops pretend to do. And then their GM form is engineered to be even more disastrous: More expansive, more aggressive, more destructive, more literally scorched earth.
Eucalyptus plantations have a special wildfire dynamic of deliberate disaster which then is used as propaganda and pretext for the Babel tech deployment. Eucalyptus monoculture drives out most other life forms, summoning a bio-dead, pesticide-slathered space where it then dries out the land and generates wildfires. These trees evolved over millions of years to thrive on aridity and fire, to the point that they depend on fire for their reproduction since their seeds open only when subjected to the temperatures generated by wildfires. That’s why they produce such dry conditions and such copious resin-laden tinder, in order to produce the most fire-friendly conditions. Many species of pine do the same, and these same species regularly are paired with eucalyptus in mutually reinforcing plantations, as both work toward the same arid fire-scoured environment.
Where growing in such masses as in plantations, eucalyptus wrings the water from the soil and causes depletion of groundwater and stream flow. The ecological impact hits far beyond the plantation borders. Everywhere it’s been introduced eucalyptus soon goes feral and aggressively invades the surrounding habitat, driving out native species and proceeding to transform the environment to its further liking: Aridity and fires.
Even natural eucalyptus-dominated ecology in its native Australia is less diverse than other woodland communities. It drives out the southern beeches who prefer moister conditions and marginalizes even such fellow arid inhabitants as Callitris, araucarias and she-oaks. Australian plantations are worse. Invasive plantations outside Australia are much worse.
GM eucalyptus is designed to greatly expand the space condemned to these plantations of fire. In Brazil, agribusiness is working to develop faster-growing eucalyptus (the project is a failure so far in spite of government approval for commercialization in 2015) while in the US ArborGen is trying to develop a cold-tolerant version in order to bring the plantations to the Southeast, where the climate is still not reliably warm enough for commercial eucalyptus production though several species are invasively established.
Wherever they expand, GM or non-GM, in the plantation or wherever they inevitably escape, eucalyptus will be aggressive against moist forest land, aggressive against native trees and plants, aggressive in turning landscapes into wildfire alleys. Much like the introduced killer bees of the 1970s, these killer trees are driving South America’s campaign of deforestation and desertification and will soon bring their paradigm of destruction to North America if the genetic engineering project prevails. A GM eucalyptus which grows faster will more quickly deplete the soil’s water. A GM eucalyptus grown in monocultures over an ever greater northward range will bring all its pathologies with it.
Eucalyptus is our prime example of the intrinsic psychopathy of industrial monoculture tree plantations and the escalation which genetically engineered forms would add to the destruction. Eucalyptus automatically is destructively invasive outside Australia. GM eucalyptus would be doubly invasive.
Beyond eucalyptus, trees targeted for genetic modification include Loblolly pines (plantations of these already infest the US southeast; genetic engineering will attempt to render their wood more dense, for use as biomass and lumber), poplars (Bt insecticidal strains of black and white poplar have been grown in China since the 2001; current projects are trying to engineer lower-lignin types for biofuel production), the American chestnut (for decades ravaged by a fungal disease, engineers want to develop a GM fungal-resistant gene drive type even though ongoing conventional breeding programs are having some success), bananas, plums, and papayas (types resistant against viral disease; GM papayas are commercially planted in Hawaii and China and already are failing in China as the virus is overcoming the resistance gene; this is guaranteed in all cases of engineered resistance), and the “Arctic apple”, now appearing in stores, engineered to suppress visual signs of incipient rot, a pure consumer-vanity product, purely worthless.
We can enumerate many more harms from GM trees, both harms intrinsic to GMOs and destructive escalations of ongoing plantation harms.
*Tree pollen is widely wafted on the wind, and poplars and pines freely hybridize in nature. Plantations of introduced species automatically contaminate native species, harming their genetic diversity. GM contamination also will happen automatically, as it already has in China where introduced species of poplar, several varieties genetically engineered and therefore doubly invasive, contaminate native poplars amid this center of world poplar diversity.
*Any advantage the engineered trait confers may help feral invasives to become entrenched in the environment. Thus faster-growing and/or cold-tolerant eucalyptus, or lower-lignin poplars, may become even more aggressive weeds than feral eucalyptus already is.
*The known harmful effects of escape and entrenchment include how eucalyptus drive out native plants and animals and dries out the land. Then there are the unknown chaotic effects, by their nature unpredictable. We’ve seen examples in the failed field trials of GM trees themselves, the failure of FuturaGen in Brazil to sustain higher-yield GM eucalyptus results across several trial sites, and the failure of Oregon engineers to sustain uniform genomes and the engineered sterility trait in their GM poplar trials. These are two examples of how chaos quickly ensues the moment the trials leave the greenhouse lab and enter the environment, even though these were still carefully controlled field trials. Imagine the chaos of the less controlled plantation environment, and then the uncontrolled wild environment where the escaped GM trees will sojourn.
*If the GM chestnut project goes through, it will be the first environmental deployment of a gene drive GMO. Such GMOs are explicitly designed to contaminate all wild individuals of the same or related species. Here the pro-GMO activists admit that GM contamination is inevitable in every case, since here the technology depends on total contamination. Whereas the Terminator trait renders seeds sterile, the gene drive Exterminator trait is designed deliberately to drive one or more species extinct.
In this obscene inversion, the fungal epidemic which has decimated the American chestnut but which nevertheless has left some naturally resistant individuals, which in the eyes of a non-psychopath would be sought as the genetic basis to conventionally breed a resistant variety, instead is being used as the pretext to launch an extermination campaign whose explicit goal is to render the natural species completely extinct, thereby completing the work of the fungus, and replace it with an alien semi-artificial engineered species. The campaign wants to drive native chestnuts extinct (and of course render organic production impossible under the current rules).
*The ecocidal psychopaths working on the GM chestnut openly avow that they are using it only as a Trojan horse to help grease the skids for subsequent, directly commercial GM trees. So the anti-blight GM chestnut is first and foremost a propaganda gambit on behalf of the commodity GM regime as such, exactly like the “golden rice” hoax.
*As with all Bt crops, Bt poplars and any other tree engineered to resist insects harm non-target insects, birds and other animals, and damage the soil ecology. Bt toxins and crops engineered to produce them are named after the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which naturally produces these toxins under ecologically balanced conditions in balanced amounts. Bt crops, from leaves to roots, grossly exude the poisons overcoming all balance. Typical of all industrial agriculture practice.
*Epidemic disease and infestation is inherent to all monocultural practice. The GMO deployment is designed to prop up this doomed, destructive, self-destructive system for a few years longer, years neither humanity nor the Earth have. GMOs and poison-based agriculture directly contradict everything we know about the climate crisis, the ongoing mass extinction event, and the general ecological crisis, everything we know needs to be done. GMOs, including GM trees, are intended to prevent any meaningful action, in mitigation or adaptation, until it’s too late.
*GM disease resistance won’t work in the real world. Genetic engineering is too fragile and too reliant on perfect lab conditions ever to work well in the environment. As with all pesticides since the big spray commenced in the 1950s, and as with all poison plants, all GMOs designed to express insecticides, resist herbicides, and/or resist disease, so GM trees as well will fail in the field against the insects, fungi, and viruses they’re allegedly deployed against. The pests always will overcome. And to roll out new trees is logistically a far more complex undertaking than to roll out new maize brands.
In reality all GMOs are hoaxes, really just carriers of an idea designed to generate profit, power, and for the scientism cult, lunatic religious exaltation.
*No testing ever has been done on the potential health harms of breathing GM pollen for humans or other animals. GM trees will send their toxic pollen travelling farther and wider than the much shorter maize or cotton.
*No legitimate testing ever has been done on the safety of humans or other animals eating GM foods (only completely irrelevant weight-gain trials on CAFO inmates, which the paid liars then fraudulently call “food safety” tests). GM apples and papayas already are tree-grown direct unprocessed GM foods in the commercial supply. If GM chestnuts are developed and deployed, this also will be a direct Frankenfood. (To say again, the GM chestnut project would use the aggressively contaminating gene drive technology. Chestnuts freely hybridize in nature already so a GM deployment in the environment, if it works as intended, will drive all existing chestnut species on the continent extinct and replace them with nothing but the GM type. Non-GM food chestnuts will cease to exist.)
*The successful engineering of low-lignin eucalyptus and poplar will escalate the biofuel scam.
*For many tribes of the First Nations, the genetic engineering of poplar is a desecration as the tree is sacred to them. At the same time, Oneidas being proselytized on behalf of the GM chestnut have said that “GM trees have no soul.”
This desecration is as deliberate as when the Romanized Christians cut down the Greek groves of Athena in order to insult the pagan religion. Today it’s the fundamentalist cult of scientism and technocracy which has embarked upon a fanatical crusade to eradicate all of nature and replace it with only engineered organisms. The boosters and technicians of GM tree plantations are such religious maniacs.
Every problem, every aspect of the ecological crisis, is in part directly driven by industrial monoculture, and directly or indirectly driven by the commodity system. It is impossible to solve or ameliorate any of these crises within the framework of industrial agriculture, or within any productionist framework. Genetic engineering is nothing but building the Tower of Babel higher and more top-heavy. Any time you hear any PR flack in any guise alleging any “need” for any form of genetic engineering whatsoever, you can ignore the specific words since they invariably boil down to, “We need to prop up corporate profit and the production economy no matter what the damage.” Or as George Bush put it, “The American way of life is non-negotiable. Keep Shopping!”
In the end it all boils down to we who recognize that globalization, commodification, production-consumption, capitalism, extreme energy, must end if humanity is to survive at all, versus those who religiously believe that these must continue and who are willing to pay the price of total global murder-suicide for the sake of this fundamentalist commitment.
All GMOs are hoaxes and frauds in addition to their many other evils. GM tree plantations, which add a great escalation of the direct destruction of forests to the direct and indirect deforestation driven overwhelmingly by corporate industrial agriculture, comprise a new level of criminal destruction and evil being premeditated and carried out by those responsible, from the engineers to the media propagandists.
GM agriculture, indelibly part of corporate industrial agriculture, offers nothing to humanity and the Earth but social and economic destruction, environmental destruction, famine, pandemics, war, and death. It’s clear that here is no way forward, only the deadest of dead ends.
The only way forward to survival, transcendence, and victory is the return home to the Earth. The broad highway home is the necessary global transformation to agroecology and Food Sovereignty. We must turn the clock forward.
The fake “solutions” of genetic engineering are nothing but the Tower of Babel. But if we have a babeling chaos, we need to stop shouting, not shout louder.


  1. […] comprise a prefect epitome of this productionist-technocratic system in all its evils.     In Part Two we’ll discuss GM trees, how they escalate these evils, and the added harm they bring.     […]

    Pingback by Tree Plantations (Part 1 of 2) | Volatility — January 26, 2019 @ 4:08 pm

  2. […] plantations for maximum biomass and biofuel production is a great spur to the campaign to deploy GM trees, especially fire-prone and destructively invasive eucalyptus, which grow faster and/or are better […]

    Pingback by The Purpose of Paris | Volatility — February 9, 2019 @ 6:55 am

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