Genetically Engineered Trees: A New Frontier or Climate Catastrophe?

By: Kat Battaglia, Fellow, Green America’s Better Paper Project Most consumers in the United States are now aware of genetically engineered foods, but far fewer realize that, beginning formally in 1988, biotech scientists have been working on the next frontier of genetic engineering: trees. While the biotech industry claims GE trees could be a natural solution to deforestation, it’s far more likely that a shift to GE monoculture forests, heavily dependent on chemical inputs, would further pollute our soil, air and waterways, and exacerbate the problems of climate change. Not All Forests Are Created Equal Natural forests are more than a collection of trees. They are rich, biodiverse habitats for millions of species of plants, animals, and microorganisms that are essential to life. Forests protect soil and waterways from pollution, and even protect humans from heart and respiratory diseases. Perhaps most miraculously, the earth’s forests also store 289 gigatons of carbon in biomass, making forests one of the greatest contributors to slowing the rate of climate change. Enter genetically engineered trees. The biotech industry is in the process of developing GE trees for a number of aims, including lower lignin content to ease processing. Lignin, a structural component of wood, must be removed from wood pulp before it can be used to make paper. GE trees with lower lignin content stand to save the paper industry a great deal of money by cutting out the expensive removal process. GE trees also […]

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Bee Girl Wants You to Love Your Bees

Bee Girl, in field with bee equipment

Sarah’s (aka the Bee Girl) fascination with bees started at a young age, thanks to a beekeeper keeping hives on her aunt’s small farm; little did she know it would turn into a deep affinity for bees and bee health. Her childhood fascination for bees has turned into a nonprofit organization dedicated to altering our perspective and interactions with bees […]

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Top Tips From Green Bloggers: How to Green your Halloween

This is a guest post compiled by Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson of Celebrate Green Summer’s long over. School is back in session. And that means Halloween is knocking at your door. We thought that in addition to reminding you to check out GreenHalloween for ideas, we’d pass on some tips from our fellow green bloggers. 1. From green blogger and independent crafter Becky Striepe, comes an idea for a simple Halloween scrap banner. And if you’re into banners, here’s a paper one we created last year. 2. Do you read Healthy Home magazine? If not, you should. You can get awesome ideas for all things healthy and green, like this BPA-free pumpkin puree that’s easier than pie to make. 3. Lots of parents today are opting out of masks and choosing face paints instead. But these can contain chemicals that you don’t want on your children’s skin. What to do? Make your own! You can check out our recipe here, and for more ideas, check out this article on Greenwala by Danika Carter, or this one from Diane MacEachern at Big Green Purse. 4. Great tips on avoiding GMO sugar this Halloween from My Healthy Green Family. 5. Emily Roach at Random Recycling loves roasting pumpkins seeds. Here’s her recipe. 6. From Robbie Schneider at Going Green Mama, what to do with that mammoth Halloween stash. 7. The Smart Mama, Jennifer Taggart, suggests using tee tree oil to keep your carved Jack-o-lantern from molding. And Danika Carter, from Your Organic Life says adding those little silica gel packets works well too. 8. And finally, […]

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Green America Supports GMO Labeling in California

This fall, California voters can cast their votes in favor of full disclosure for their foods.  Proposition 37 will be on the ballot, and a “yes” vote will require food companies to disclose genetically modified (GMO) ingredients on product labeling. Green America enthusiastically supports a “yes” vote on Proposition 37. Consumers have a right to know what is in their food, and genetically modified foods pose potential health risks to consumers. Despite the assurances of the largest players in the food industry, GMO’s are not proven to be healthy and safe. As Green America recently reported, studies on animals demonstrate that GMOs create disturbing and long-term negative health impacts.  Recent studies implicate GMOs in causing negative human health impacts, including a role in accelerating obesity. In addition, GMOs have negative environmental impacts, including the increased use of pesticides and contamination of non-GMO crops.  Finally, GMO crops have caused hardship to family farmers here in the U.S., whose crops have been contaminated with genetically modified seeds.  They have also harmed famers in the developing world, who were promised greater yields with GMO seeds, but who ended up in increasing debt instead (to read more about the problems of GMOs and to learn which foods to avoid, please read the FrankenFoods issue of the Green American magazine). Green America supports labeling of GMO foods at the national level, and is a proud supporter of the Just Label It! Campaign.  Our members were part […]

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9 GMO Ingredients to Watch Out For

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Because of the prevalence of soy and corn in processed foods, about 30,000 genetically modified food products sit on US grocery store shelves. Here are the top 9 GM ingredients to watch for: 1. SOY GM since: 1996 How widespread: 94 percent of the US soybean crop was genetically modified in 2011, according to the USDA. What to watch for: […]

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6 Grocery Tips for Avoiding GMOs

Though dozens of countries around the world require genetically modified food to be labeled, the US is not one of them. In the absence of lables, here are our best tips for avoiding GMOs when you shop: 1. Look for the Non-GMO Project label: The Non-GMO Project label provides consumers with independent, third-party assurance that a product contains no GMOs. The Project tests high-risk ingredients in the products that bear its label, to ensure that they contain less than 0.9 percent GMOs (allowing for low levels of unintentional contamination). 2. Be wary of unverified non-GMO claims: A company may legally label its products as being GMO-free without having to perform testing or otherwise prove to a third-party that is the case.

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Bitter Seeds: The Human Toll of GMOs

Every 30 minutes, a farmer commits suicide in India, a phenomenon that has been steadily rising since the 1970s. Documentary filmmaker Micha X. Peled took his cameras to the vibrant farming community of Telung Takli in the state of Maharashtra—which sits at the heart of the crisis— to find out why. Peled’s 2011 film Bitter Seeds starts out with brief scenes from the funeral of a farmer who has just committed suicide. It swiftly cuts away to follow the story of Ram Krishna Kopulwar, who has been farming cotton on the same three acres since he was seven, as he plants genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton seeds for the first time. The question at the heart of the film is whether or not this gentle family man will join the list of farmers who have given Maharashtra and a handful of neighboring states the nickname of “India’s Suicide Belt.”

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