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2004-09-20 |

Nobody knows where China’s GE trees are growing

China has planted more than a million genetically modified trees in a bid to halt the spread of deserts and prevent flash floods. But a bureaucratic loophole means that no one knows for sure where all the trees have been planted, or what effect they will have on native forests. In the past five years, 8000 square kilometres of farmland in China has been converted to plantations. State foresters have focused on the headwaters of the Yellow and Yangtze rivers and Xinjiang province in the arid north-west, where the first field tests for GM trees were carried out in the late 1990s.

2004-09-16 |

Hawai'i critics say engineered papayas are a threat

Pollen from genetically engineered papayas has contaminated at least some ordinary papaya plants in Hawaii, say advocates for controls on genetically modified organisms. Evidence of such »genetic drift« with papaya was recently confirmed with testing of Hawaii papaya samples at a mainland lab, representatives of Hawaii Genetic Engineering Action Network and GMO-Free Hawaii said Thursday. Proponents of the genetically engineered Rainbow and SunUp papayas agreed that pollen can spread to nonengineered trees, but said they would need to know more about testing methodologies before agreeing there is a problem.

2004-09-16 |

GE contamination in papaya seeds confirmed by Thai government

An agricultural research station yesterday destroyed 1,000 suspected genetically modified (GM) papaya trees in Muang district. »Ten years of research aimed at improving disease resistance in papayas was destroyed, along with the experimental crops,« said research station chief Wilai Prasartsri. Wilai said the research setback was unjustified and was essnetially based on an unfounded fear of GM crops.

2004-09-10 |

GE trees in China: Genetically modified madness

Two years ago, China’s State Forestry Administration approved genetically modified (GM) poplar trees for commercial planting. Well over one million insect resistant GM poplars have now been planted in China. Also two years ago, China launched the world’s largest tree planting project. By 2012 the government aims to have covered an area of 44 million hectares with trees.

2004-08-12 |

Oji Paper grafts natural eucalyptus on GE eucalyptus roots

Oji Paper Co. has successfully grafted natural eucalyptus onto genetically modified eucalyptus to create trees that grow well in acidic soils without worry that genetically altered seeds will spread in the environment. The graft has the root system of a eucalyptus tree genetically modified to absorb nutrients in acidic soils, where eucalyptus normally does not thrive. The rest of the graft from the trunk up is derived from a natural eucalyptus tree.

2004-08-09 |

Turning GE trees into toxic avengers

Dr. Richard Meagher, a professor of genetics at the University of Georgia, genetically engineered the trees to extract mercury from the soil, store it without being harmed, convert it to a less toxic form of mercury and release it into the air. It was one of two dozen proposals Dr. Meagher has submitted to various agencies over two decades for engineering trees to soak up chemicals from contaminated soil. For years, no one would pay him to try. »I got called a charlatan,« he said. »People didn’t believe a plant could do this.« He will begin to assess the experiment’s success this fall. But his is not the only such experiment with trees.

2004-05-20 |

UN Forest Forum urged to ban GE trees

Global Justice Ecology Project and the Stop GE Trees Campaign, both based in the U.S., are working with organizations including The Corner House of the UK, The Union of Ecoforestry from Finland, and World Rainforest Movement of Uruguay, to pressure the United Nations to oppose the use of genetically engineered trees in carbon offset forestry plantations developed under the Kyoto Protocol, and to ban their commercial development. On 11 May petitions signed by renowned scientists such as Dr. David Suzuki, more than 160 organizations including The Sierra Club, and Friends of the Earth International as well as over 1,500 individuals will be presented to the U.N. in Geneva backing these demands.

2004-05-13 |

Call for »second-generation« GM crops

THERE is a desperate need for the creation of »second-generation« bio-technology products to demonstrate real consumer advantages, says [Sean Rickard of Cranfield University ...] He cited the case of gene transfer in elm trees which prevented damage from Dutch Elm disease. »If we can produce a loaf of bread from GM wheat that helps prevent bone deterioration in later life, consumers will then be able to see the advantages.

2003-12-10 |

Kyoto Protocol allows GE trees as carbon sinks

Parties reached agreement yesterday on the use of sinks in the CDM after two years of negotiations. This is an encouraging step forward for the Kyoto Protocol and demonstrates the success of the multilateral process.
However, the sinks agreement clearly fails in three key areas:
- No exclusion of monoculture plantations.
- No exclusion of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- The links between the sinks rules and other multilateral environmental agreements such as Convention on Biological Diversity are not strong enough.

2003-12-10 |

Green light for GM trees in Kyoto Protocol

UN diplomats have reached an agreement in principle on Tuesday to include genetically-modified trees in forests planted for the specific purpose of soaking up greenhouse gases. The agreement made at an Environmental summit in Milan will allow scientists to develop fast-growing trees with a maximized capability of storing carbon dioxide, one of the gases thought likely to be responsible for the heating of the earth’s atmosphere. Under the terms of the UN Kyoto Protocol on global warming, rich countries will be able to plant forests in the developing world and offset the amount of gas absorbed against their own greenhouse emissions.

2003-10-29 |

Canadian government spends $20M for genetically modified trees

The federal government is spending upward of $20-million a year to create genetically modified trees and says commercial plantations could be just a decade away.
Critics say the research could lead to a nightmare vision of sterile forests, while the government’s own documents raise safety concerns about the experiments. The goal of field trials under way in Ste-Foy, Que., is to study »transgenic« trees so the government can be fully informed if a timber company wants to plant them in the future, says the program’s chief researcher. The industry is interested in genetically modifying trees to make them impervious to spruce budworm, produce better quality wood or for other commercial benefits.

2003-09-12 |

University of Georgia (USA) researchers involved in first trial using transgenic trees to help clean up toxic waste site

Can genetically engineered cottonwood trees clean up a site contaminated with toxic mercury? A team of researchers from the University of Georgia - in the first such field test ever done with trees - is about to find out.
The results could make clearer the future of phytoremediation - a technique of using trees, grasses and other plants to remove hazardous materials from the soil. [...] We hope to see a significant difference in the levels of mercury in the soil within 18 months, perhaps as much as a twofold reduction,« said Richard Meagher, professor of genetics at UGA.

2003-09-12 |

Can GE trees help cleaning the soil?

It’s a kind of Superfund superplant, a leafy organism designed specifically to devour the hazardous waste that industrial machinations and human carelessness have left in the ground. The genetically modified mutant plants suck heavy metals, such as lead and arsenic, out of the soil into their roots, stems and leaves, cleansing the contaminated soil. It’s an intoxicating vision: Imagine fields of these valiant plants fighting part of the $700 billion battle that the United States faces in mopping up polluted Superfund sites.

2003-08-05 |

Institute's GM trees cross environmental lobby's grain

The Forest Research Institute has denied environmentalists’ claims that field trials of genetically-modified spruce and pine will wreck export markets for New Zealand timber. The institute received approval from the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) for field tests of genetically modified spruce and radiata pine early in 2001. The genetically modified saplings were reared in glasshouses. The trials are now at the planting-out stage.

2003-08-05 |

Biotech trees get wooden response from Sierra Club

Scientists are planting genetically engineered trees in dozens of research projects across the country, ignoring the pleas of environmentalists who fear dangerous, unintended consequences. When we’re talking about changing the very makeup of wild forests, we definitely need to apply caution,«said Kathleen Casey, with the Northwest office of the Sierra Club. Trees send their pollen huge distances, and the idea that this won’t contaminate the gene pool is ridiculous,«said Phil Bereano, a University of Washington professor of engineering.

2003-07-28 |

Genetically modified eucalyptus grows in acidic soil

Major domestic paper manufacturer Oji Paper Co. has developed genetically modified eucalyptus that can grow in acidic soil, company officials said. [...] Oji Paper says it will produce the genetically modified eucalyptus commercially if it is determined the plant poses no harm to the environment. Because eucalyptus, which grows fast and is rich in cellulose, is a good substitute for regular wood in paper production, it is hoped that the development of tougher kinds of eucalyptus will prevent a shortage of trees for paper production, company officials said.

2003-07-25 |

New GE hype: A biotech approach to global climate change

Can biotechnology save the planet? When most people hear that question, they probably think about genetically modified food or new drugs. But the same technologies that are being developed for farms and pharmaceuticals have scientists speculating that biotechnology could hold some promise for moderating global warming caused by the greenhouse effect.

2003-04-16 |

Brazil tests GM orange tree against »sudden death«

A Brazilian genome scientist says his firm is close to marketing genetically modified orange trees that could save the world’s largest orange crop from destruction by ”sudden death” disease. The disease, now believed to be a human-caused, virulent mutation of an older plague that wiped out Brazil’s orchards in the 1950s, has surfaced across an area holding about 22 million trees in Brazil’s main orange state of Sao Paulo. The idea is to create a tree that is immune to the citrus tristeza virus (CTV) and sudden death, as if we were creating a human into which the cold virus could not enter and mutate,” Fernando Reinach, the chief executive officer of Allelyx, told Reuters in a phone interview.

2003-04-04 |

Transgenic trees hold promise for pulp and paper industries

The expensive, energy-intensive process of turning wood into paper costs the pulp and paper industries more than $6 billion a year. Much of that expense involves separating wood’s cellulose from lignin, the glue that binds a tree’s fibers, by using an alkali solution and high temperatures and pressures. Although the lignin so removed is reused as fuel, wood with less lignin and more cellulose would save the industry millions of dollars a year in processing and chemical costs. [...] By genetically modifying aspen trees, Dr. Vincent L. Chiang, professor of forest biotechnology, and his colleagues have reduced the trees’ lignin content by 45 to 50 percent - and accomplished the first successful dual-gene alteration in forestry science.

2003-03-25 |

U.S. photocopy company Kinkos does not support GE trees

Kinkos, the photocopy giant, announced that it would not align itself with suppliers using genetically engineered trees. This policy is the first of its kind regarding genetically engineered trees and is a groundbreaking step toward the elimination of the severe ecological threats posed by genetically engineered trees. We laud this decision by Kinkos and congratulate Rainforest Action Network and the Dogwood Alliance on this important victory,” said Brad Hash, Campaigner on Genetically Engineered Trees for Action for Social & Ecological Justice.

2003-03-19 |

Forest Certification New Zealand goes for GE tree ban

The standard, put forward by a body called Forest Certification New Zealand, is aimed at providing consumers with a guarantee that the wood they buy has been grown in an environmentally friendly manner. A draft standard has been circulated and New Zealand’s forestry firms say the proposal is draconian, absurd and would lock them into never using genetic technologies.
One submission on the proposal, from forestry company Rubicon, describes the proposal as ”absurd. The present prohibition on the use of genetically modified trees is reasonable in terms of where the technology and understanding is today no government has approved the uncontrolled release of genetically modified trees yet.

2003-01-28 |

Biotech company engineers future forests

Call it genetic engineering for trees. That’s how ArborGen, a Summerville-based biotech company, serves the nation’s forest industry. Using gene transfer techniques, tissue-freezing cryogenics labs and a foresight that penetrates decades into the forest industry’s future needs, ArborGen develops ways to improve the quality of wood and the growth and harvesting of trees. Producing faster-growing trees is one of the byproducts of our research,” says Dawn Parks, ArborGen’s government and public affairs manager. ”We focus mainly on improving wood quality, tree plantation productivity and pulp and paper manufacturing.

2002-10-21 |

Building a better GE tree

Molecular biologist Keith Woeste and his colleagues at the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center are, according to this story, wagering they can grow better hardwoods through a combination of classical breeding and biotechnology to give a boost to the nation’s $14 billion a year hardwood industry. The story says that Purdue University scientists are trying to create superior black walnut, black cherry and northern red oak trees - a trio coveted by the fine furniture and wood flooring industry - that can be planted by the millions in tree plantations.

2002-09-15 |

Loblolly pine open for genetic engineering, research shows

The nation’s most important commercial pine tree - the loblolly - has been successfully genetically engineered, researchers at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station report in the journal Molecular Breeding. The study, which proves a concept already demonstrated on many other plant species, will lead to further research that ultimately will enable scientists to improve the native southern pine with such traits as drought tolerance and disease- and pest-resistance, according to lead researcher Dr. Jean Gould, an Experiment Station molecular biologist.

2002-07-01 |

GE controversy in Malaysia

Rubber is being re-engineered. One day, perhaps in less than a decade from now, rubber trees will become natural pharmaceutical -factories producing life-saving medicines.
Researchers at RRIM have implanted a gene into the rubber tree to produce human serum albumin (HSA), a protein in blood essential for staying alive. And that, after more studies and trials, is expected to enter the US$4.2 billion market for HSA. ”You don’t cut the tree, you just tap it,” says P Arokiaraj, senior researcher at RRIM’s biotechnology division. ”And from the latex, you can spin out the HSA protein. The system is working.”

2002-03-04 |

Forest biotech edges out of the lab

Already, researchers have inserted genes for traits such as pesticide resistance, herbicide tolerance, and delayed flowering into several types of trees, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has received applications to field-test 138 types of transformed trees, 52 of them in the last 2 years. Farther down the road, biotech supporters imagine extraordinarily fast-growing trees that can not only reduce the pressure on natural forests but help combat climate change as well.

2002-02-26 |

Brazilian scientists start to map coffee genome

Brazilian scientists started last week to map the coffee genome in a project that will produce 200,000 genetic sequences as it seeks to strengthen the coffee tree’s resistance to disease, pests, frost and drought. ”The first stage involves mapping genetic sequences and will involve 20 people and take one year,” Mirian Eira of the government’s Brasilia-based Agricultural Research Organization (Embrapa), told Reuters. Embrapa and the Sao Paulo State Research Support Fund (Fapesp) are coordinating the research, that is focused initially on the arabica variety, which accounts for 70 percent of Brazilian coffee output.

2002-02-25 |

Thailand banned commercial import of 37 GE plants

Thirty-seven genetically modified (GM) crops are to be banned from entering the country except for scientific research, said a senior official of the Department of Agriculture. Surapol Yinasawapan, a highranking official of the department’s Agricultural Regulatory Division, yesterday said the 37 GM crops - including oranges, apples, coffee trees and wheat - would be put on the prohibited plant list under the 1964 Plant Quarantine Act. ”GM crops are novel for Thailand. We have to be more careful before allowing them to enter because some people are concerned about their negative impact on the ecosystem,” he said.

2000-11-08 |

Brazil hopes cocoa genome will beat witch’s broom

Brazil hopes to use genome mapping to find a solution to the witch’s broom fungus that has hit cocoa output over the past decade. Cocoa output in Brazil’s northern state of Bahia, the key growing region of the Americas, has dropped sharply since the disease was first discovered in 1989 - eliminating Brazil’s status as a major world producer. »We have mapped some of the cocoa genome with markers and know that in some specific parts of it, there are a couple of genes which we can use...which are very associated with resistance to witch’s broom,« said Raul Rene Valle, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s Cocoa Research Centre (Cepec).

2000-09-01 |

GE news from Poland

find attached and below the official list of field trials in POLAND, as approved by the Ministry of Environment. In 1999, there were 12 permits given for field trials of GE sugar beet, fodder beet, maize, winter and spring oilseed rape and potatoes. In 2000, 9 permits were issued for field trials of: GE sugar beet (6 permits i.e. 6 GE varieties), maize and potatoes. [...] NGOs in Poland recently found out about trials of GE plum trees that have been going on for years.

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