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Genetically Modified (GM) Trees
A collection of reports and news relevant to TFD's GM Trees Initiative
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Hot topics: GM crops and biotechnology - STEPS

Hot topics: GM crops and biotechnology - STEPS | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it
A collection of research and commentary from the STEPS Centre about genetically modified crops and biotechnology.
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Fields of beaten gold

Fields of beaten gold | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

"IN AUGUST environmentalists in the Philippines vandalised a field of Golden Rice, an experimental grain whose genes had been modified to carry beta-carotene, a chemical precursor of vitamin A. Golden Rice is not produced by a corporate behemoth but by the public sector. Its seeds will be handed out free to farmers."

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United States: Saving the citrus industry with spinach

United States: Saving the citrus industry with spinach | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

Growers across Florida are worried about a disease ravaging the fields: citrus greening.  Ricke Kress, President of Southern Gardens Citrus in Clewiston, thinks that the solution for saving the orange juice industry lies in genetically modified orange trees. "If we don't get a cure for it, conceivably, it could wipe it out," said Kress. But he thinks the industry will find a solution.

The Forests Dialogue's insight:

Spinach genes in orange trees? At TFD we aim to focus the GM Tree discussions on wood and fiber plantations, but this is of interest nontheless.

 

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International Day of Action Targets Monoculture Tree Plantations – Ban on Genetically Engineered Trees Demanded

International Day of Action Targets Monoculture Tree Plantations – Ban on Genetically Engineered Trees Demanded | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

On 21 September, the International Day of Action against Monoculture Tree Plantations, organizations, forest dependent communities, and Indigenous Peoples from around the globe will denounce industrial tree plantations due to their devastating social and ecological impacts.

The Forests Dialogue's insight:

Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, and Biofuelwatch jointly issued this statement for the International Day of Action against industrial tree plantations demanding an immediate ban on the release of all genetically engineered (GE) trees.

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A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA

A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it
Growers turned to genetics in hopes of building a tougher orange tree. But what intervention would the public accept?
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U.S. Urged to Reject Genetically Engineered Trees

WASHINGTON, May 30 (IPS) - Consumer advocates and environmentalists this week are taking advantage of an industry conference to highlight concerns over the U.S. government's pending approval of a genetically modified eucalyptus tree.

Technician Christine Berry checks on futuristic peach and apple "orchards". Each dish holds tiny experimental trees grown from lab-cultured cells to which researchers have given new genes. Credit: USDA Agricultural Research Service

The project proposal is currently being weighed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If approved, it would constitute the first time that a bioengineered tree has been authorised for commercial production in the United States...

 

 

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Scientists sequence ‘Norwegian wood’ genome, breaking world record in the process

Scientists sequence ‘Norwegian wood’ genome, breaking world record in the process | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

Science e-zines are abuzz with Beatles references today following the successful sequencing by Sewdish scientists of a popular “Norwegian wood.” The tree in question is a pine tree known as Norway spruce (Picea abies), one of Europe’s most popular choices for timber, and its sequencing opens up the possibility for a new wave of genetic engineering of the continent’s domestic trees.

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GMOs: Why so controversial?

GMOs: Why so controversial? | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it
“There’s no evidence that it’s harmful,” said Steven Strauss, a biotechnology professor at Oregon State University. His topic was genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods.
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ArborGen Petition for Determination of Nonregulated Status of GM Eucalyptus in US--public comments accepted

The Forests Dialogue's insight:

USDA accepts public comments on ArborGen's request to deregulate freeze tolerant genetically modified eukalyptus trees. These would most likely be grown on plantations in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. At this point, do we know enough to make the right decisions?

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WWF Position Paper on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)

WWF Position paper on GMO's.
The Forests Dialogue's insight:

The focus is on GM food crops but the scope does include GM trees, as well.

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Documentary Film: A SILENT FOREST–The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees

Documentary Film: A SILENT FOREST–The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

This award winning documentary film explores the growing global threat of genetically engineered trees to our environment and to human health. The film features renowned geneticist and host of PBS’ The Nature of Things David Suzuki, who explores the unknown and possibly disastrous consequences of improperly tested GE methods. Many scientists and activists are interviewed in the film, which serves as an effective and succinct tool for understanding the complex issue of GE trees. The film includes the testimony of many experts on the subject and serves as a valuable tool to inform students and those interested in environmental issues.

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The Forests Dialogue convened a GMT Scoping Dialogue in Gland Switzerland

The Forests Dialogue convened a GMT  Scoping Dialogue in Gland Switzerland | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

The Forests Dialogue (TFD) convened a second exploratory meeting—a “Scoping Dialogue”—of 28 leaders in the forest sector with an interest in the topic of genetically-modified (GM) trees, in Gland, Switzerland, on 17-18 October 2012. This meeting followed a similar one in New Haven, CT, United States, on 10-11 November 2011.Participants (Annex 1) represented a diversity of interests, including forest sector corporations, other forest owners, non-government and civil society organisations (including representatives of Indigenous Peoples’ organisations and forest certification schemes), research institutes, and universities.

The Forests Dialogue's insight:

The meeting report is avaialble for downoad at above link.

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Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary principle 1896-2000 — European Environment Agency (EEA)

Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary principle 1896-2000 — European Environment Agency (EEA) | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

This report came up as containing valuable insights that may well be relevant to the GM Tree debate that we are having today.

 

"Late lessons from early warnings is about the gathering of information on the hazards of human economic activities and its use in taking action to better protect both the environment and the health of the species and ecosystems that are dependent..."

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Information Sharing Meeting on Genetically Modified Trees | The Forests Dialogue

Information Sharing Meeting on Genetically Modified Trees | The Forests Dialogue | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

Following two previous GMTs “Scoping” Dialogues that revealed polarized views about GMTs, participants proposed to convene a small information-sharing meeting to elucidate key forest product industry policies and plans as they relate to current and future development of GMTs. In England, 15 participants from civil society organizations, intergovernmental organizations, indigenous peoples’ organizations and the forest products industry convened to discuss these issues. TFD invited the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and FERN to co-host the meeting. Lead by FPP and FERN, participants developed a draft questionnaire that would list the main questions for the forest products industry. The results of the questionnaire are expected in early 2014. 

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Papaya Nightmares: A Farmer Struggles Amid Hawaii's GMO Debate

Papaya Nightmares: A Farmer Struggles Amid Hawaii's GMO Debate | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

It’s hard to imagine anyone in Hawaii who is more concerned about the rising movement to ban GMO crops than Dennis Gonsalves. For one, he created the genetically modified rainbow papaya.

Born and raised on a sugarcane plantation in North Kohala, the kindly looking Gonsalves studied to be a plant virus specialist. He became an associate professor at Cornell University in 1977. A year later, driven by fears that the ringspot virus could invade Keeau, the recent hire in the university's Department of Plant Pathology began searching for a solution to the virus.

His approach was rather simple: to vaccinate the papayas. But fruits aren’t like humans; you can’t just give a papaya an injection of low-level virus and wait for its immune systems to develop resistance.

 

 

The Forests Dialogue's insight:

This is an article from a local Hawaiian newspaper from a few weeks ago that has some background on what's going on with GM Papayas in Hawaii.

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Genetically Modified Papayas In Hawaii Hacked Down over Night

Genetically Modified Papayas In Hawaii Hacked Down over Night | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

About 100 genetically modified papaya trees were hacked down with machetes on Thursday night on Hawaii's Big Island. The act is believed to be an act of eco-terrorism rather than random vandalism as the Big Island is currently considering the future of biotech on the island. Two bills that would impose restrictions on biotech are currently up for debate, according to Honolulu's Civil Beat. One of the bills would require that the island's GMO papaya fields be cut down entirely, and farmers caught growing GMO papaya would face jail and fines.

The Forests Dialogue's insight:

GM Papayas continue to be a heated issue in Hawaii.

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Can GMO trees save our forests?

Can GMO trees save our forests? | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

Biotech experts weigh the environmental and social consequences of planting genetically modified pines and poplars

The Forests Dialogue's insight:

This is a very good discussion of the major issues in the GM Tree debate; the complexity is often simplified in other articles. 

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Like-Minded Rivals Race to Bring Back an American Icon

Like-Minded Rivals Race to Bring Back an American Icon | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it
Two teams of plant breeders and geneticists are within reach of creating an American chestnut tree that can withstand the fungus blight that wiped the trees out.
The Forests Dialogue's insight:

Bringing back the extinct American Chestnut that only a century ago dominated forests in the Eastern United States is a different use of GE technology in trees. How do people feel about this type of GMT application that could help bring back an extinct species?

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Genetically Engineered Trees and Glowing Synthetic Plants? No Thanks

Genetically Engineered Trees and Glowing Synthetic Plants? No Thanks | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

This week in Asheville, N.C., the IUFRO "Tree Biotechnology" conference will meet. And the attendees will be met: by protests. Public opinion is unequivocally opposed to genetically engineered trees. When the South Carolina-based tree engineering company, ArborGen recently applied for deregulation of their freeze tolerant eucalyptus, APHIS responded by filing a "notice of intent" to conduct an environmental impact statement, and opened up for public comments on ArborGen's petition. The comments the received were overwhelmingly negative by a vast majority.

 

 

The Forests Dialogue's insight:

An opinion piece on Genetically Modified Trees posted through The Huffington Post by Rachel Smolker from BiofuelWatch.

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Transgenics: A new breed

Transgenics: A new breed | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it
The next wave of genetically modified crops is making its way to market — and might just ease concerns over 'Frankenfoods'.
The Forests Dialogue's insight:

While mostly based on plant crops, this article includes references to GM plum trees and poplars.

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Genetically Engineered Trees & Risk Assessment | EcoNexus

Trees differ in a number of important characteristics from field crops, and these characteristics are also relevant for any risk assessment of genetically engineered (GE) trees. A review of the scientific literature shows that due to the complexity of trees as organisms with large habitats and numerous interactions, currently no meaningful and sufficient risk assessment of GE trees is possible, and that especially a trait-specific risk assessment is not appropriate. Both scientific literature and in-field experience show that contamination by and dispersal of GE trees will take place. Transgenic sterility is not an option to avoid the potential impacts posed by GE trees and their spread. Regulation of trees on a national level will not be sufficient because due to the large-scale dispersion of reproductive plant material, GE trees are likely to cross national borders. All this makes GE trees a compelling case for the application of the precautionary principle.

The Forests Dialogue's insight:

This is an older paper that was circulated during the TFD Scoping Dialogue on GM Trees in New Haven, CT USA. Still relevant.

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GM trees a threat to forests’ diversity

GM trees a threat to forests’ diversity | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

"On the World Forestry Day today (March 21) it is a matter of serious concern to note that the proponents of biotechnology industry have been working towards establishing Genetically Engineered (GE) trees to help reverse deforestation and to meet the ever increasing demand for pulpwood."

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Genetically Engineered Trees for Bioenergy Pose Major Threat to Southern Forests

Genetically Engineered Trees for Bioenergy Pose Major Threat to Southern Forests | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

WASHINGTON - February 12 - In response to industry plans to develop eucalyptus plantations across the US South[1], environmental groups[2] are raising serious concerns about the impacts of eucalyptus plantations on forests, rural communities, wildlife and the climate - especially if those trees are genetically engineered.

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Genetically Modified Christmas Trees Pre-Lit With Jellyfish Gene

Genetically Modified Christmas Trees Pre-Lit With Jellyfish Gene | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it
If Christmas lights have been the bane of your holiday, then there just may be good news on the horizon: Genetic engineers have come up with a method where your Christmas tree could grow its own lights.
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The GM tree plantations bred to satisfy the world's energy needs

The GM tree plantations bred to satisfy the world's energy needs | Genetically Modified (GM) Trees | Scoop.it

It's a timber company's dream but a horrific industrial vision for others: massive plantations of densely planted GM eucalyptus trees stretching across Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and China, engineered to grow 40% faster for use as paper, as pellets for power stations and as fuel for cars.

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