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Out on a Limb

Genetically engineered trees take root

Timber and paper companies and their researchers are quietly, doggedly working to genetically engineer trees with traits that boost the bottom line: faster growth and stronger insect resistance, for instance. But they know that one of the biggest barriers to their biotech dreams may not be in the lab or the field but in the arena of public opinion. Internationally, the issue already has triggered opposition. Meanwhile, APHIS has approved hundreds of open-air field trials of GE trees. In countries with looser environmental controls, more GE trees have been planted, but not without problems and controversy. China has planted more than a million GE poplars in an attempt to stop flash floods and keep deserts from spreading… and experiments have shown that genes from the modified trees have turned up in nearby natural poplars. In the United States, where 72 percent of productive forestland is privately owned, any negative effects of GE trees could have a big impact on woodlands.

News notes are courtesy of Southern Forests Network News Notes
www.southernsustainableforests.org

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