World Rainforest Movement

France – WRM information sheet on GE tree research

 WRM information sheets on GE tree research

First posted: 1 August 2008
Updated: 15 August 2008, based on information from (1)
Last update: August 2014

Tree species being manipulated: (1,2,3)

  • Hybrid poplar (populus alba x populus tremula)
  • Rubber tree (CIRAD in collaboration with research organizations in Thailand)

Aim of genetic manipulation (1,2,3)

  • less lignin content for the production of ethanol
  • less lignin content for the production of paper
  • allow callus growth recovery, with reduced browning and sustained GUS activity (rubber tree)

Those carrying out the research: (1,2,3)

  • INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) (poplar)
  • CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement) (rubber tree)

Involvement with foreign research partners (1,2,4)

  • French academics have been collaborating with Southampton University researchers involved in GE poplars in the UK. The research team, which also includes academics from Belgium, has been seeking locations for field trials in Belgium and Britain.
  •  This collaboration was transformed in a consortium called EnergyPoplar, including also institutions from Sweden, Germany and Italy. (4)

Those who provide support to research:

Regulatory framework for research and field trials:

  • Since 2003, the Ministry of Agriculture “consults” the public by internet about petitions for field trials.

Field trials

  • Saint Cyr en Val: Field trial between 2007 until 2012 on 1363 m2 of genetically modified poplars for wood properties and bio energy production. (1,2)
  •  the application by INRA for a 5-years extension of the permit for this field trial, was registered by the French authorities in December 2012 (5). But in July 2013, before the authorities had taken a final decision yet,  INRA announced that « in the absence of a new permit to continue their scientific work using genetically modified poplars, INRA has proceeded on Saturday 13 July 2013 to stop its field trial conducted in le Loiret ».  This decision came after the company apparently had not found funding to continue its trial. But also the economical, ethical and social committee (CEES) of the High Council of Biotechnology (HCB) of France had given a recommendation against the extension of the permit, as it considered the industrial project behind this trial as not relevant. (6)

Organizations opposing GE trees:

  • The organization Inf’OGM carries out crytical documentation and monitoring of genetically modified organisms in France