GM Poplars – another false solution to combat climate change


Floppy Trees to Fuel Cars to combat climate change
Another false solution In the surroundings of the city of Ghent in Belgium … … a field trial is conducted with genetically modified
poplar trees. These trees have been genetically modified to make
their wood weaker,… ů and therefore more easily transformable… … into ethanol to fuel cars. Those responsible for the trial ľ the researchers
of the Flemish Biotechnology Institute (VIB) – … … claim that these GM poplar trees will present
a solution for the global fight against climate change. But is this true? What would be the impact of large scale plantations
of these GM trees ? For decades, industry and researchers … have tried to develop efficient processes
to turn wood into fuel. This fuel, called cellulosic ethanol, is made
by breaking down woody fiber into sugars… … and converting these sugars into ethanol
through fermentation. One problem is the substance that makes trees
hard and sturdy : lignin. Lignin is also important for the tree to protect itself
from pests and diseases. But it also makes it harder to access the cellulose… … and break it down into sugars for ethanol production. This requires either a lot of chemicals
or high temperatures. This is expensive and very environmentally unfriendly. This is why researchers have turned to
genetic engineering … …to create trees that contain less lignin,
or altered lignin. But as said, these trees are also weaker. Another big hurdle is to create the right mix
of microbes that can do the job. Genetically modified super microbes are being
developed for this – and many other – purposes. But still today, researchers are very far
from finding a way… … to produce fuel from wood in a way that
would actually reduce emissions. There is ample experience with large scale
tree monoculture plantations… …in countries like Chile, Brazil, Spain and the US. The plantations lead to land grabbing. Local communities are displaced and cannot gather
any forest products or wood from these plantations. Natural forests and biodiversity get destroyed… ,…the trees use large amounts of water … … and large amounts of pesticides are used. Poplar trees grow mainly in North America,
Europe and Asia. But the genetic modification can also be applied
to other tree species like eucalyptus or pine. These GE tree monoculture plantations will be
established … … in countries where land is not as expensive
as in Belgium. The researchers claim they can be grown
on ” marginal lands “. However what counts for them as marginal land … …could actually be highly valuable for people
who depend on that land for their livelihoods. GM tree plantations to produce fuel for the
insatiable world energy market … … will multiply these problems. Poplar trees can spread their pollen and their tiny seeds
by wind over large areas. The trees can crossbreed with native populations
of poplar trees … … and therefore native populations can get affected. The trees in this trial are cut back in a way
that they will not flower… … therefore they cannot produce seeds, says VIB. But if these GM trees would ever get commercialised … … and produced on large scale plantations … … who will make sure they donĺt reach
flowering stage … … spread pollen and produce seeds ? The VIB receives over 40 million euro per year
from the Flemish government. There is also EU funding and funding
from corporations … … like Syngenta, Bayer and BASF. Those corporations are at the same time represented
on the VIB board and general council …. …. and therefore have an influence over its policies. GMOs are nearly always patented. The VIB researchers are applying for patents
related to the GM poplar trees. This means they will get a monopoly right
to exploit the trees commercially. First of all, they create biotech startup companies … … that can then be sold off to big corporations. In this way, public investments disappear
into private hands. There is fierce competition from the US and China
to be the first … … to make the dream of turning wood into fuel
come true. The process leading to the authorisation of the trial
was far from democratic. Against the rules, there was no meeting
of the Belgian biosecurity council … … to grant the autorisation, nor an official vote. While three out of 12 members had expressed to be
in favour of the trial … … two were against, and the rest abstained. The concerns of the opposing members in the
Biosafety Council were ignored. In addition, hundreds of citizens submitted
objections to the field trial. Yet the field trial got the green light
from the Belgian ministers. To make things worse, the VIB is actively lobbying… … to weaken EU rules for the environmental
risk assessment for GMOs ů … in particular for GM trees. The GM poplar trial should be stopped ! GM trees grown on monoculture plantations
are a false solution … … in the fight against climate change. They divert attention to the root causes
of climate change. Large scale ethanol plantations will have
very harmful consequences … …. for biodiversity and communities
in parts of the world ů …that are least responsible of causing climate change. While society bears the costs, the risks and the impacts … …the profits will be for investors and
large corporations. Stop this field trial … … and invest in real sustainable and social
climate solutions ! Agro ecology – Short chains – Land reform – Climate Justice
Solar energy – Biodiversity – Fair Trade – Public Transport

2 thoughts on “GM Poplars – another false solution to combat climate change

  1. Actually its lignin NOT cellulose which has the most potential as a fossil fuel substitute in vehicles – http://www.domtar.com/en/pulp/lignin/10387.asp

  2. This explainer is a piece of shit blurp Any person with half a brain would support a method which would make biofuel more accessible.

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