Yes you read that right, no longer satisfied with creating unsafe plants for us to eat, genetic engineers are now unleashing frankentrees, per T. V. Padma’s report for SciDev.Net:
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.
Brazil leads, with 48 per cent of global patents in the sector, next only to the US with 53 per cent. Chile too has seen a rapid increase, with both private sector as well organised consortia of academic and business institutions engaged in GM trees. Mexico has been working for some years on GM trees, and Colombia has expressed interest in working in the sector. So have Argentina and Uruguay…
[continues at SciDev.Net]