Genetically Engineered Trees


Since 1999 GENET collects and distributes information on various topics in the field of genetic engineering in agriculture, food production and health. With this "Special Topic: GE Trees" GENET aims at providing an overview about the worldwide debate on genetically engineered trees, based on our archives.


Databank Query 1: "trees" as key word in the GENET-news text


You will find a selection of publications in the section "Research & Reports". To get more information about the different stakeholders in the debate, please follow the internet links to selected actors in the civil society and industry sectors. Finally, the page "GE Trees and the CBD" introduces you into the international debate about a moratorium on GE trees that is ongoing at the Convention for Biological Biodiversity.

GENET-news articles

2010-12-15 |

Environmental Risk Management Authority approves 25-year GE pine trial in New Zealand

The Environmental Risk Management Authority has approved, with controls, an application from the Crown research institute Scion to field test genetically modified pine trees in containment at its Rotorua campus. The approval allows Scion to continue its research programme investigating the introduction of new traits with commercial potential for Radiata pine trees. The Authority has imposed strict controls on the approval, including requiring no heritable material (pollen or seed) to escape from the containment site.

2010-12-13 |

New branch of science may build a better GE tree

A U.S.-based organization called the Institute of Forest Biotechnology has started talks on using technology to create trees that are easier to grow, yield higher-quality lumber, and are more resistant to disease, insects and climate change. In a conference call held this past week, leaders of the institute said genetically modified trees could help offset the effects of increasing demand on forests from a growing population, as well as depletion of forests from climate change and other factors.

2010-12-10 |

Institute of Forest Biotechnology (USA) plants GE American Elm and American Chestnut trees

The institute will plant American Elm and American Chestnut trees that have been engineered to be resistant to Dutch Elm and Chestnut blight, at the Oxford campus of its partner, the Biofuels Center of North Carolina. [...] The institute worked for 2-1/2 years with a wide range of stakeholders to develop its principles, including corporations and "interest groups that categorically don't like biotechnology," Costanza said.

2010-12-06 |

GE orange trees - hopes still there despite ”limited success”

Most scientists who have studied the problem seem to agree that genetic modification, and the cultivation of trees resistant to the bacteria that causes ”greening” disease, currently hold out the only real long-term hope of fighting it. [...] There are significant risks of failure, though, even as more money is poured into research. [...] For all their promise, since genetically modified crops made their commercial debut in the United States about 15 years ago, the biotech industry has so far had only limited success in using genetics to develop resistance to bacterial diseases.

2010-11-09 |

Controversy about GE pine trials in New Zealand

“ERMA will grant the GE trees application regardless of the submissions because it is under government and United States pressure to do so,” said Soil & Health - Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning. Government has put $10.8 million science funding into the project and with pro-GE forestry interests actively lobby’s Forest Stewardship Council and international forums such as the Convention of Biological Diversity and the World Trade Organisation along with the USA, for acceptance of GE forestry.

2010-11-05 |

Scientists find that evergreen non-GE agriculture boosts maize yields by 280%

farmers in Malawi have increased their maize yields by up to 280 percent when the crop is grown under a canopy of one particular fertilizing tree, Faidherbia albida. Unlike most other trees, Faidherbia sheds its leaves during the early rainy season and remains dormant during the crop-growing period. This makes it highly compatible with food crops because it does not compete with them for water, nutrients, or light—only the bare branches of the tree's canopy spread overhead while crops of maize, sorghum, or millets grow to maturity below.

2010-10-04 |

ArborGen plans initial share sale to raise cash to develop GE trees

ArborGen Inc., the U.S. developer of genetically modified forest trees, plans to raise as much as $75 million in an initial public offering of common shares to pay for facility upgrades and research. ArborGen, a joint venture of U.S. companies International Paper Co. and MeadWestvaco Corp. and New Zealand’s Rubicon Ltd., will use the proceeds to buy a new headquarters, manufacturing plants and research laboratories, and to repay debt, the Summerville, South Carolina-based company said today in a regulatory filing.

2010-08-26 |

Could GE cold-resistant eucalyptus trees be the kudzu of the 2010s?

Although one form of eucalyptus is already on a U.S. Forest Service list of invasive plants, ArborGen in May won federal permits for seven test sites, including one 75 miles from Charlotte in Marlboro County, S.C. A U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis concluded the test hybrids aren't likely to create a pest plant. We say, remember kudzu. For decades the federal Soil Conservation Service promoted it. And then it was too late.

2010-08-26 |

Scion (New Zealand) applies for 25-year field trial of GE pine trees

An environmental watchdog is calling for public submissions on a plan to field test genetically-engineered pine trees “in containment” at Rotorua. [...] State science company Scion wants to test genes influencing plant growth, reproductive development, herbicide tolerance, biomass utilisation, wood density and stability, in 4000 trees on a four hectare site. The field test will last for 25 years, though each tree will be grown only for a maximum of eight years.

2010-08-20 |

U.S. groups oppose genetically engineered eucalyptus trees

Environmentalists are challenging the plans of a S.C.-based biotechnology firm to grow genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in the South, saying the fast-growing Australian species could spread uncontrollably. ArborGen LLC won federal permits in May to plant 330 acres of a eucalyptus hybrid in South Carolina and six other states. The test sites include Marlboro County, S.C., about 75 miles southeast of Charlotte.

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GE Trees: NGOs and Social Movements

 people's Forest Forum

The Global Ban on GM Trees Campaign was released by three Finnish non-governemental organisations in January 2004. The open petition protested decicion made in UN Climate change meeting in Milano to include transgenic trees in their climate toolbox. This desicion violated the biodiversity and biosafety agreements and prozesses.

 Stop GE Trees Campaign

The Stop GE Trees Campaign is a national and international alliance of organizations that have united toward the goal of prohibiting the ecologically and socially devastating release of genetically engineered trees into the environment. Global Justice Ecology Project coordinates, administrates and fundraises for the campaign. World Rainforest Movement, based in Uruguay, is the Southern Hub for the Campaign and has materials in Spanish and Portuguese.

 Genetically Modified Trees

Information by the World Rainforest Movement

  • WRM publications on GM Trees
  • Articles published in WRM bulletin
  • WRM special bulletin on GM Trees
  • Video "The Silent Forest"
  • Other relevant information
  • Links

GE Trees: Biotechnology Industry and Science

 Institute for Forest Biotechnology

The Institute promotes the responsible use of biotechnology in forest trees.  We advance the societal, environmental, and economic benefits biotechnology can bring to forests around the world.  The Institute of Forest Biotechnology (IFB) is the only non-profit organization to address the sustainability of forest biotechnology on a global scale.


Trees are the world’s most plentiful and versatile source of renewable materials and an important resource for bioenergy. ArborGen is dedicated to improving the sustainability and productivity of purpose grown working forests, providing more wood on less land while preserving native habitats in all their diversity and complexity for future generations.

 Tree Biosafety and Genomics Research Cooperative

The goal of the Tree Biosafety and Genomics Research Cooperative (TBGRC) is to conduct research, technology transfer, and education to facilitate beneficial uses of genetically engineered trees in plantations. The TBGRC seeks to test and develop select innovations, based on progress in molecular biology and agricultural biotechnology, that will ultimately have commercial value to wood-growing and horticultural industries. Research is presently focused on poplars as scientific models for genetic engineering and functional genomic studies.