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

2009-07-07 |

U.S. Department of Agriculture OK sought for GE eucalyptus field trials

The quarter million eucalyptus trees that ArborGen wants to flower are a ”variety,” genetically engineered duplicates of a single Brazilian tree. The Summerville-based forest research lab has asked the U.S. Agriculture Department to permit the flowering of trees planted at 28 sites in seven states including South Carolina, [...] The five South Carolina sites comprise a total of 7.7 acres. The field tests here so far have failed, said Les Pearson, ArborGen regulatory affairs director. The trees die back during the winter and probably won’t live long enough to flower.

2009-07-01 |

Anti-biotech groups obstruct GE tree development

The potential of forest biotechnology to help address significant social and environmental issues is being ”strangled at birth” by the rigid opposition of some groups and regulations that effectively preclude even the testing of genetically modified trees, scientists argue in a new report. [...] the potential will be lost to use this powerful tool to create trees that grow faster, better resist drought or disease, restore threatened species, reduce costs, contribute to renewable energy, sequester carbon, improve environmental cleanup, and produce badly needed products for global consumers, the scientists said.

2009-07-01 |

U.S. company applies for releasing 260,000 GE eucalyptus trees on 134 ha

The U.S. government is set to approve a request from ArborGen, the genetically engineered (GE) tree research and development giant, for permission to plant 260,000 GE cold tolerant eucalyptus trees in 29 ”field trials” across seven southern U.S. states. Approval of such a large-scale planting of these dangerous flowering GE forest trees in the U.S. is completely unprecedented. The GE eucalyptus, to be planted in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, would be allowed to flower and produce seeds, enabling them to potentially escape into native ecosystems and forests.

2009-06-23 |

Russians plan to release GE trees with with super fast growth rate

Russian biologists plan to plant 300,000 genetically modified aspens and birch trees at two experimental fields, Informnauka news agency reports. In the autumn of 2009 the trees, currently in greenhouses, will be planted in the open air near the cities of St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. The trees’ DNA has been modified by researchers at the Institute for Bioorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences to provide for faster growth and harder wood pulp.

2009-06-23 |

Activists convince CBD Member States to block GE tree research

Increasingly stringent recommendations by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are hindering the field research needed to develop safe uses of genetically modified (GM) trees, say Steven H. Strauss and colleagues. [...] And the strong anti-GM stance taken by some countries and prominent nongovernmental organisations are influencing CBD recommendations, say the authors.

2009-06-15 |

GE apple trees destroyed in Germany

Two hundred and seventy apple trees on a trial site owned by the Institute for Breeding Research on Horticultural and Fruit Crops of the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) in Dresden-Pillnitz were destroyed by unknown intruders. Most of the trees were genetically modified plants being grown in tubs in a special safety tent under field-like conditions. It is the first time that protesters have destroyed plants that were not being grown in the field.

2009-05-26 |

Field trial of dangerous genetically engineered trees begins in Belgium

Organizations internationally are condemning the planting of a highly controversial field trial of GE poplar trees on 6 May by The Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB). The poplars, planted in the Belgian countryside, have been genetically engineered for altered lignin content specifically for the production of agrofuels (industrial- scale biofuels).

2009-01-29 |

U.S. scientists bredd non-GE scab-resistant apple

A new, late-ripening apple named WineCrisp which carries the Vf gene for scab resistance was developed over the past 20 plus years through classical breeding techniques, not genetic engineering. License to propagate trees will be made available to nurseries through the University of Illinois. Being resistant to apple scab is a big plus for growers, said University of Illinois plant geneticist Schuyler Korban, as it significantly reduces the number of chemical fungicide sprays. ”Apple scab is the number one disease that growers have to spray for — 15 to 20 times per season — so not having to spray for apple scab lowers the cost for the grower and is better for the environment.”

2008-11-24 |

Overwhelming opposition to GE papaya in the USA

Organizations came together with scientists, businesses, organic farmers, bee keepers and others to oppose a U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal to allow the commercialization of genetically engineered papaya trees in Florida. Over 12,000 people opposed the commercialization while only 17 people submitted statements supporting the commercialization of GE papaya. The STOP GE Trees Campaign, which initiated the call for opposition, includes 137 organizations across the world that have united in the demand for a global ban on GE trees of all types.

2008-11-14 |

City of Nelson (Canada) becomes a GE plant free zone

Acting as a pinnacle to our GE-Free Zones series, on November 3, 2008, the City of Nelson, B.C., officially became Canada’s third GE-Free zone. In a unanimous decision by the City Council, a resolution was adopted that expresses opposition to the ”cultivation of GE plants and trees”. Deconstructing Dinner was on hand to record the monumental decision.

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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.