Fake Plastic Trees? Transgenic trees to become an “easier” source of ethanol fuel

22 11 2007

Image source: paularmstrongdesigns.com (c) 2007

A greenprinteronline.com dispatch.

Radiohead may be able to touch the fake plastic trees they sang about in the 1990s in the coming years.

The New York Times recently reported on how a group of scientists out of North Carolina State University are looking to turn trees into new energy sources using a controversial genetic engineering process that reduces the amount of lignin, a chemical compound that interferes with efforts to turn the tree’s cellulose into biofuels like ethanol.

Scientists and environmentalists attest that going too far in reducing lignin could lead to wobbly, vulnerable trees with lowered resistance to pests.

But, those for using trees as a new energy source claim they are good sources of cellulose and absorb carbon dioxide, thus helping to mitigate global warming (though, according to Grist.org, this argument is only half the story behind trees and their role in combating climate change).

Proponents say the process also opens up trees to being cut when needed, rather than “having to be harvested at a given time each year like a crop”.

We wonder: how much of those new, artificial trees will live to tackle CO2 and how many will add to the 100 million trees already being harvested each year to print virgin fiber catalogues and junk mail?

So, in what seems like a case in using trees as a means to an end (corn for energy, anyone?), the very idea of producing transgenic trees does not address the need to actually reduce the amount of trees currently being cut down or the need to reduce our strain on existing forests by using recycled paper.

The question that’s most alarming, however, is how this new superbreed of trees will impact the continued growth – and survival – of forests around the world.

Green Printer‘ s goal is to save between 750 000 to 1 million trees over the next ten years. GP takes recycled paper to a higher standard with their 100% recycled, Processed Chlorine-free paper for all your paper product needs.


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3 responses to “Fake Plastic Trees? Transgenic trees to become an “easier” source of ethanol fuel”

23 11 2007
The Future of Free Energy | They want to mutate trees for Ethanol production! (06:26:43) :

[…] and you don’t know what ecological disaster it might produce when released freely. Now I find out another astonishing news: the title of this […]

10 02 2008
Do you agree to genetically mutate trees for hydrogen production? | The Green Optimistic (05:55:39) :

[…] and you don’t know what ecological disaster it might produce when released freely. Now I find out another astonishing news: the title of this […]

22 02 2009
Do you agree to genetically mutate trees for ethanol production? | Hydrogen Power | The Green Optimistic (23:40:57) :

[…] and you don’t know what ecological disaster it might produce when released freely. Now I find out another astonishing news: the title of this […]

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