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The US biotech industry appears to be conspiring to overcome public rejection of genetic engineering. What they are doing is trying to promote it as a way to save forests.
Researchers have manipulated the genetic material of chestnut trees to make the tree species resistant to the disease. They intend to introduce the trees obtained in the laboratory as quickly as possible into the forests, so that their seeds are dispersed and the plants propagate.
The plan is therefore for the American chestnut to reconquer the habitat in which it was so widespread before. Thus they declare genetic engineering as a "savior of the forests".
But this plan is very dangerous. The experiment would be irreversible, with consequences that no one can calculate. Forests are highly complex communities of life. There are no long-term studies on how genetically modified trees interact in biodiverse ecosystems with insects, birds, and other wildlife.
The alleged recovery of the American chestnut could lead to the disappearance of other species.
Furthermore, the authorization of genetically manipulated trees could set a precedent and become commonplace. It is not about the laudable protection of an iconic species, but rather a pure and simple commercial interest of the pulp and pellet industries. The lie of genetic engineering as a savior of forests may be successful, although a large part of the population rejects the intervention of genetic material.
For those of us who defend the environment, it is clear: genetic engineering does not protect forests but puts them in danger. We think that the genetic material of trees should not be modified