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GM Trees - A Fast Growing Field But with Little Information or Regulation, Says Report

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Environment and Climate Resource Center page.

Genetically modified (GM) trees have been engaging both last week’s COP-MOP 6 on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and COP-11 on the Convention on Biological Diversity. And Isis Alvarez, from the Global Forest Coalition, advises some caution in a paper that reviews GM tree research in Latin America and was circulated at a side event in the Hyderabad.

The first thought that occurred to me was: does Latin America need GM forest trees any more than India needs GM brinjal (eggplant)? But leaving that aside, countries see potential for biotechnology in the forestry sector, just as in agriculture.

According to Alvarez, most known experiments in Latin America include Eucalyptus species, but several firms are also working on poplars, pines, acacias and fruit trees. Private funding dominates GM tree research and genetic patents and so little information is available, Alvarez says.

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