Target: Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Goal: To stop biotechnology company ArborGen from selling millions of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees, which are known to cause deadly forest fires and meningitis.
ArborGen, a genetic engineering company, has asked the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to legalize the sale of millions of genetically modified eucalyptus trees. If approved, these trees would be harvested for biofuel across Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. These types of trees have caused deadly forest fires in Australia and California, where they are considered an invasive species. We must stop ArborGen from putting our forest habitats at risk by legalizing genetically engineered eucalyptus trees.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, large-scale plantings of non-native eucalyptus trees causes environmental changes to groundwater and local stream flows. Over time, the trees can eliminate seasonal streams, which is problematic because of recent drought conditions in the South. The seeds of these genetically engineered trees will inevitably spread and contaminate countless native trees in nearby forests.
Highly flammable eucalyptus trees have caused numerous wildfires, including Oakland, California’s fire of 1991 and Australia’s fire of 2009. Many people have died as a result of these wildfires and billions of dollars have been wasted. One of the eucalyptus species used in genetically engineered eucalyptus trees is a host of a fatal fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus gattii. This fungus has caused fatal meningitis in humans.
Sign the below petition to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prohibit the planting of non-native eucalyptus trees in the southern states. With your support, we can prevent large scale plantings of dangerous trees that threaten our forests and our health.
Dear Mr. Vilsack,
Genetically engineered eucalyptus trees pose environmental risks to forests and health risks to humans. Non-native eucalyptus trees have been a common cause of wildfires throughout the world. The trees also affect stream flows in regions that are already suffering from extreme drought. Genetically engineered eucalyptus trees post a direct threat to human health as well, as they are known hosts for a fatal fungus that causes meningitis.
I am urging you to stop ArborGen from planting millions of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in the southern United States. Please stop these dangerous trees from destroying our forests, our wildlife, and our health.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ethel Aardvark via WikiMedia