Movimento Mundial pelas Florestas Tropicais

Israel – WRM information sheet on GE tree research

Disponível apenas em inglês.

WRM information sheets on GE tree research

First posted: 1 August 2008
Modified: 7 August 2009
Last update: July 2014

Tree species being manipulated:

  • Poplar
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pine (Pinus halepensis)

Aim of genetic manipulation

  • faster growth
  • increased cellulose content
  • improved fiber properties
  • Resistance to Bacterial Wilt disease in Eucalyptus (caused by the soil bacteria Ralstonia solanacearum) (1)

Those carrying out the research:

  • In the period 1993-2006, CBD Technologies carried out research on GE Trees, associating itself in 2001 with the Brazilian pulp and paper company Suzano, in a project to increase the growth rate of eucalyptus trees. CBD and Suzano started field trials in Israel in 2003 and in Brazil in 2006 (1).  In 2006, CBD merged with FuturaGene, acquired in 2010 by Suzano, and in 2014 Futuragene/Suzano requested a permit for commercial planting of GE eucalyptus in Brazil (see factsheet Brazil).  FuturaGene (Israel) has also been doing field trials in China. According to Stanley Hirsch, CEO of FuturaGene, “all that is missing are permissions from governments for the trees to be grown commercially, and backing from conservation groups and certification bodies”. According to the company, its GE eucalyptus trees can grow 5 metres per year, with 20%-30% more biomass than the conventional plantation eucalyptus. In just 5,5 years, trees get 27 metres high. Hirsch further affirms that “Potentially, we believe this [development] can displace the whole fossil fuel industry”, pointing out to the use of eucalyptus for energy generation. “The technology can be adapted to any trees. We can have a whole new supply of fuel. Yes, I do want to save the world.” (2)
  • FuturaGene has partnered, besides Suzano, with Bayer CropScience, with academic institutions in the U.S., including Oregon State University, Purdue University, and the University of Arizona. In China, the company has partnered with Guangxi Academy of Sciences and the Research Institute of Forestry of the Chinese Academy of Forestry. (3)
  • Hebrew University, Institute of Plant Sciences and Agriculture

Field trials (4)

  • poplars in the US
  • eucalyptus, poplar and pine in Israel
  • eucalyptus in Brazil
  • planned field trial in Thailand

Those who provide support to research:

Regulatory framework for research and field trials:

  • The National Committee for Transgenic Plants (NCTP) regulates research and breeding programs utilizing transgenic plants and techniques and also the import of transgenic plant material. The fifteen members of the committee represent the academic community, the public and the government (the ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Science, Health and Industry & Trade).

Organizations opposing GE trees:

Sources:

  1. http://www.futuragene.com/en/history.aspx
  2. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/nov/15/gm-trees-bred-world-energy
  3. http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/6317/eucalyptus-developer-begins-final-field-trial
  4. http://gmopundit.blogspot.com/2006/05/gm-eucalyptus-and-poplar-trees-in.html