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François Houllier Item 4 EFI Position on research related to GM trees Annual Conference of EFI 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "François Houllier Item 4 EFI Position on research related to GM trees Annual Conference of EFI 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 François Houllier Item 4 EFI Position on research related to GM trees Annual Conference of EFI 2007

2 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September A position about GM tree-related research, not about GM tree-based silviculture Doing research on a topic does neither mean that there will be direct applications nor that such applications are desired and/or desirable, But, of course, research may also lead to applications … GM-tree related research covers a wide range of topics, disciplines and expertise Tree biology and biotechnology Assessment of ecological/environmental impacts Comparative assessment of alternative silvicultural systems Assessment of economic/social impacts …

3 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September A statement in three parts Context Process Statement

4 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September A statement in three parts: the context Context EFI Board acknowledges that GM tree-related research is a controversial issue, with implications for many disciplines from biology, ecology and environmental sciences, to social and human sciences. The Board recognised its responsibility to issue a statement on the matter and consequently initiated a process of discussion and consideration. Process Statement

5 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September The forestry context is different from the context in agriculture (1) Reasons for that are diverse Feed and food uses (crops) vs. non food uses (forests) Trees are long-living perennial species Trees are large organisms Specific targets (e.g. lignin contents and type in trees) Large (GM crops: 102 Mha in 2006) vs. restricted (GM forests) dissemination Different implication of large multinational companies Forests and trees are a symbol of Nature …

6 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September The forestry context is different from the context in agriculture (2) Reasons for that are diverse As a consequence (?), the controversy is less hot than for crops e.g. Number of citations under Google (25 August 2007) GM forest : 965 (vs. 79,000 for GM crop) GM tree : 919 (vs. 70,800 for GM plant)

7 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September The context: positions taken by other organizations Several international (FAO, IUFRO Task Force « Forests and Genetically Modified Trees ») and national organizations (BBSRC, CSIRO, CIRAD, INRA, etc.) have expressed their position on GMOs and/or biotechnology either in general or with a special emphasis on research rarely with a specific reference to forest trees A few common features The need for innovation and the potential role of biotechnologies, including GM The necessity to investigate all sorts of impacts (direct- indirect, intentional-non intentional, short-long term, etc.)

8 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September The context: the status in the EU in 2006 (1) GM plants (including GM trees) are a common lab tool for plant biologists Contained research using indoor facilities

9 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September The context: the status in the EU in 2006 (2) GM plants are a common lab tool for plant biologists A few open-air field GM tree experiments in a few countries presently (Poland, Germany, Finland, France, Romania, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden) or in the past (UK, Romania, Netherlands, Portugal) Fruit trees: apple tree, Prunus sp., olive tree, Citrus sp. Forest trees: poplar, aspen, silver birch, Eucalyptus Former experiments: Norway spruce, pine, Eucalyptus Target traits: modified wood properties, resistance to a virus, fast growth, risk assessment (e.g. dissemination, non target insect species)

10 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September The context: the status in the EU in 2006 (3) GM plants are a common lab tool for plant biologists A few open-air field GM tree experiments in a few countries presently or in the past No commercial release (i.e. no large scale application) neither presently nor foreseen

11 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September The context in the world: FAO (December 2004) Traits targeted in genetic modification projects, in laboratory based experiments

12 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September The context in the world: FAO (December 2004) Traits targeted in projects with GM trees in field trials

13 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September The context in the world: FAO (December 2004) Issues addressed in field trials with GM trees

14 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September The context in the world: FAO (December 2004) « Commercial plantations Most respondents reported that they had no immediate plans for commercialization […]. However, it has been reported (Su et al. 2003) that there are such plantations and one respondent described the commercial release of two GM tree species in China: Populus nigra, modified with the Bt gene for resistance to leaf-eating insects, with 80 ha of field trials on eight sites in seven provinces since 1999 and 200–300 ha of commercial planting since 2002 (over one million cuttings have been propagated). Hybrid poplar 741 (P. alba × [P. davidiana + P. simonii] × P. tomentosa), modified with cry1Ac and API for resistance to leaf-eating insects, with field trials since 2001 and commercial planting since 2003 (currently only indicative data available on area planted). The respondent further reported that there are significant problems keeping track of the area planted, mainly because poplar is vegetatively propagated and there is confusion in nurseries as to what is genetically modified and what is not. »

15 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September A statement in three parts: a 3-years process Context Process A proposal for a Project Centre in 2004 EFI discussion paper 12 (2005) Discussion at the Annual Conference 2005 in Barcelona Electronic forum in late 2005 (open to EFI associate members) EFI SAB discussed the matter and advised the Board on the issue in August 2006 Statement

16 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September A statement in three parts: the statement itself (1) Context Process Statement In order to provide the relevant public authorities with sound and unbiased scientific data and information, GM-tree related research is needed.

17 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September A statement in three parts: the statement itself (2) Context Process Statement In order to provide the relevant public authorities with sound and unbiased scientific data and information, GM-tree related research is needed. This research should: contribute to the maintenance and development of autonomous multidisciplinary competences and expertise in this field;

18 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September A statement in three parts: the statement itself (3) Context Process Statement In order to provide the relevant public authorities with sound and unbiased scientific data and information, GM-tree related research is needed. This research should: contribute to the maintenance and development of autonomous multidisciplinary competences and expertise in this field; inform the policy process; however policy, regulation and operational functions regarding GM trees should be the responsibility of the relevant public authorities;

19 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September A statement in three parts: the statement itself (4) Context Process Statement In order to provide the relevant public authorities with sound and unbiased scientific data and information, GM-tree related research is needed. This research should: contribute to the maintenance and development of autonomous multidisciplinary competences and expertise in this field; inform the policy process […] explore alternative paths and options, and assess the various technical, economic, social and ecological impacts, benefits, costs and risks associated with GM trees.

20 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September A statement in three parts: the statement itself (5) Context Process Statement In order to provide the relevant public authorities with sound and unbiased scientific data and information, GM-tree related research is needed […] GM-tree related research should strictly comply with public safety regulations. Forest research organizations involved in such research should ensure that precautionary procedures have been developed and published.

21 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September A statement in three parts: the statement itself (6) Context Process Statement In order to provide the relevant public authorities with sound and unbiased scientific data and information, GM-tree related research is needed […] GM-tree related research should strictly comply with public safety regulations […] There is also a need for monitoring developments of relevance to European forestry from all over the world.

22 EFI Annual Conference, 6 September Thank you for your attention Discussion is welcome


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