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Preliminary review of biotechnology in forestry, including genetic modification

This paper provides an overview of the state of biotechnology research in forest trees worldwide. It was written as part of the preparations for a review by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) to assess the global status and trends of genetic diversity in forest trees.

Worldwide, there are currently more than 210 trials of genetically modified (GM) trees in 16 countries, and GM trees have been released for commercial planting in China. Most of the research is focused on four genera — Pinus, Populus, Liquidambar and Eucalyptus — with traits such as gene stability, tissue culture and herbicide tolerance of prime interest. Biotechnology activities have been most numerous in Europe (39 per cent), followed by Asia (24 per cent).

The report contains an extensive overview of the scope and status of GM research in agro-forestry. It addresses issues such as regulation and intellectual property, as well as potential benefits of and obstacles to the genetic modification of trees. It also highlights past, current and future trends in research. The document is well researched and provides a valuable insight into the technology and its applications worldwide.