Movimento Mundial pelas Florestas Tropicais

Sweden – WRM information sheet on GE tree research

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WRM information sheets on GE tree research

First posted: 1 August 2008

Last update: 2014

Forest tree species being manipulated:

  •  poplar, eucalyptus and spruce (1)

Aim of genetic manipulation

  •  early flowering
  •  faster growth
  •  increased fibre length
  •  wood easier to pulp (with more easily extracted lignin content)
  •  easier hydrolysis of the sugar polymers for subsequent production of ethanol (1)

Those carrying out the research:

  •  Umeå Plant Science Centre
  •  SweTree Technologies (SweTree Technologies was formed in 1999 as a joint initiative of the Foundation of Technology Transfer –Innovationsbron- in Umeå and the company Woodheads AB. Innovationsbron aims to profit by commercialising Swedish research and innovation. Woodheads AB was formed to handle the intellectual property from 44 researchers at the Umeå Plant Science Centre and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.)
  •  Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology;
  •  SweTre Technologies is part of a Consortium of public and private research institutions in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany and Italy,  called EnergyPoplar, focusing in bioenergy. (2)

Those who provide support to research:

  •  Three Swedish forestry companies (Sveaskog, Bergvik Skog and Holmen) are part-owners of SweTree Technologies.

Regulatory framework for research and field trials:

  •  The National Board of Forestry is the competent authority for processing “market release applications for genetically modified forest trees intended for timber production”, while the Swedish Board of Agriculture “Processes applications for trial cultivation, market release and contained use of genetically modified plants, animals and feed”.(3)

Field trials:

  • The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) is carrying out different field experiments with GE Poplar; one in the period 2011-2016 to study modified wood properties in 10,000 m2 (4); and another trial to study improved wood quality in the period 2014-2019 at a less than 20,000 m2 site in Vaxtorp, Laholm (5)
  • The Umea University got partial approval for several field trials of less than one hectare with GE poplar for basic research aims, in Vaxtorp, Laholm but also at a location close to Umea, from 2013 onwards.(6)
  • SweTree Technologies AB started to carry out a field experiment for the period 2011-2016 with poplar to increase knowledge about growth and drought stress properties in about 15,000 m2, (7) and another one in the period 2012-2017 also with poplar aimed at increased production of woody biomass, in about 5,000 m2 at Vaxtorp in Laholm. (8)

Organizations opposing GE trees: