Biosafety Considerations in the Context of Deployment of GE Trees

  • Hely HäggmanEmail author
  • Suvi Sutela
  • Christian Walter
  • Matthias Fladung
Part of the Forestry Sciences book series (FOSC, volume 81)


According to FAO world population will increase from the current seven to nine billion by 2050. This combined with ongoing climate change will lead to increased demands for land resources for food and feed production and subsequently to changes in land use from forestry to agricultural purposes. With an increased awareness of the importance of native forests for the world’s climate, harvesting from these forests is expected to decrease and conversions of native forest land to agricultural land may also become undesirable. Another factor for consideration will be an increased demand on land resources for the production of biofuels and bioproducts. In future, forests will be planted for raw materials for the pulp and paper industry and fiber production along with providing these new resources. In this scenario, productivity, in particular that of planted forests needs to be increased significantly, while at the same time native forests must be protected from further exploitation. Genetic engineering offers a potential to significantly and in relatively short time frames increase volume and quality of forest-based raw materials, thus, providing options to reduce world wide consumption of petrochemicals and increase the use of sustainable resources. Since forests can be grown on marginal lands, competition with land resources suitable for agricultural production can be avoided. At the same time, the increased productivity from bioengineered forests will provide an option to protect native forests.

The biosafety of genetically modified (GM) forests is an important consideration given the benefits expected from these plantations and the scale to which this will need to happen to have a meaningful impact. We assess the current scientific knowledge around the environmental safety of GM trees and discuss this in the context of expected environmental and economic benefits, and in the context of risk associated with accepted conventional tree breeding and forestry practices.


Genetically Engineer Hybrid Poplar Cinnamyl Alcohol Dehydrogenase Arthropod Community Plantation Forestry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hely Häggman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Suvi Sutela
    • 1
  • Christian Walter
    • 2
  • Matthias Fladung
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.The New Zealand Forest Research Institute LtdRotoruaNew Zealand
  3. 3.Thünen-Institute of Forest GeneticsGrosshansdorfGermany

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