版權歸屬 Serria Club，環境資訊協會(龐中培 譯，蘇崧棱 審校)
Genetic engineering of food crops has been a stealth technology; it went from 0 to 60 before we knew it - zero to 60 million acres - and with worldwide outcry is now holding steady at around 100 million acres.
Meanwhile, the equally stealthy cousin of genetically engineered (GE) agriculture is poised for a similar explosive start: the genetic engineering of trees is proceeding in hundreds of test locations, and the possibility that the new genes spliced into GE trees will interfere with natural forests isn't a hypothetical risk but a certainty. During our lives, genetic engineering may do as much damage to forests and wildlife habitat as chain saws and sprawl.
This is not to say that every application of GE will necessarily be bad. There may be good uses for this technology; it may be possible to use it responsibly. But common sense should warn us that its commercial development in the absence of environmental safeguards is a prescription for disaster. Sierra Club opposes the out-of-doors deployment of genetic technologies because the genes are free - as free as pollen on the wind - to invade nature, and because once this has happened they can't be recalled. The arguments below are not intended to be inclusive but only to illustrate the nature of the problem.
Corporations, as Milton Friedman pointed out, exist not to be ethical but to make money. And from the standpoint of a forestry company, wildlife habitat has very little value. "Growing the bottom line" is what such companies try to do, and among their strategies are clear cutting and replanting with uniform and fast growing trees (tree plantations). An optimal match between the manufacturing process (cutting lumber and making paper goods) and the inputs can add to profits. These companies now see an opportunity to engineer trees which grow faster, contain less lignin, are more uniform in their characteristics, are more resistant to disease, and so forth. And unfortunately, if this is the way to make money, this is likely to be the future. Sierra Club believes that pressure from society in the form of legal prohibitions and restraints, stringent regulations and liability laws, and environmental and consumer activism must be brought to bear in order to hold the industry in check.
We are often told that commercialization of genetically engineered (GE'd) trees is at least several years away. This is also part of the "stealth" referred to above. GE'd stands of papaya trees are yielding commercial crops in Hawaii. The tip of the iceberg is already under our prow, not on the distant horizon. But it is for the traditional forestry industries of paper and lumber making that most research is presently being done. This is also an area which poses the greatest risk to nature.