Engineered trees host deadly fungus

Regarding the Oct. 16 article, “Fatal fungus creeps south into Washington” about Cryptococcus Gattii:

Earlier this year, the Global Justice Ecology Project launched a campaign to address the emerging threat of the large-scale, unsustainable, environmentally and socially destructive production of biofuels. One of the major threats we uncovered revolves around plans by ArborGen (a major genetically engineered tree corporation) to develop huge plantations of genetically engineered Eucalyptus throughout the South.

Eucalyptus is one of the hosts of C. Gattii. In particular, Eucalyptus Grandii, one of the species being engineered, is a documented C. Gattii host.

Corporations are sinking billions into ethanol plants, and are looking at genetically engineered trees and microbes for future supplies of so-called “cellulosic ethanol.”

The Global Justice Ecology Project and others are calling for a serious look at the long- and short-term consequences of the replacement of our dependence on fossil fuels with a new dependence on the massive production of biofuels. Our work on the biofuels issue centers on the link between biofuels and GE trees, forest destruction and displacement of indigenous communities from their ancestral lands.

In the U.S., we are especially concerned about the possible human health impacts of releasing a huge number of trees known to be potential hosts to a deadly fungus.

In May we issued an urgent action alert against ArborGen’s request for a USDA permit for a test plot of flowering GE eucalyptus trees. In July, the USDA approved this permit, allowing ArborGen to grow GE eucalyptus in Alabama.

Dr. Joseph Heitman, director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis at Duke University Medical Center, and an expert on Cryptococcus, is among those who shares our concern on the potentially deadly threat of creating large-scale plantations of a tree that can host a deadly fungus.

Phiona Hamilton-Gordon

Global Justice Ecology Project

Hinesburg, VT

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

toon
The City of Everett is set to purchase two single sidewalk restrooms from Romtec, a company based in Roseburg, Ore., for $315,000. (Romtec)
Editorial: Utilitarian but sturdy restrooms should be a relief

Everett is placing four stalls downtown that should be accessible but less prone to problems.

Schwab: What was lost when doctors stopped making house calls

More than just a convenience, a house call could inform a doctor about the patient’s care at home.

Dowd: Biden could take a lesson from Reagan on pace of travel

In his bid to look energetic, the president is jetting around the globe at a clip Nancy Reagan would not approve of.

Krugman: Public’s mood on economy shows a subtle positive shift

It might not provide much help to President Biden, but it may not be as much of a drag on him, either.

Goldberg: Attack on Pride in Colorado further splits the GOP

The state party president, who is running for Congress, is counting on homophobia to secure the base.

toons
Editorial cartoons for Thursday, June 13

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Stephens: Only way that Biden can win is not to run

The president can only commit to managing threats; his best chance for victory is to leave the ticket.

Krugman: The wealthy’s support of Trump isn’t just about money

They’re also not crazy about those who — like Biden — don’t pay sufficient deference to them.

Bouie: Should wealthy and powerful again put trust in Trump

They stepped away after Jan. 6, but — ignoring their own need for democratic norms — are drawn to autocracy.

Everett principal Betty Cobbs served kids, community for 51 years

Education and community. Those words are the best America has to offer;… Continue reading

Artist Natalie Niblack works amongst her project entitled “33 Birds / Three Degrees” during the setup for Exploring The Edge at Schack Art Center on Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The paintings feature motion-activated speakers that play each bird’s unique call. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: For 50 years Schack Art Center there for creation

The art center is more art studio than museum, supporting artists and fostering creativity in kids.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.