Forest Biotechnology

by- Shannon Smith and Amy Chen

What is Forest Biotechnology?

Forest biotechnology is a growing field of study that has many potential benefits for humankind and our environment. It includes genetically modifying the DNA of trees and other plants, selective breeding, and other techniques.

History of Forest Biotechnology

In about 5000 BC, early teosinte plants had small cobs with few kernels. However, by 1500 AD, the corn cobs were more than 5 times the size and packed full of kernels. Scientists believe this is because of ancient attempts at selective breeding. Next, in about 1970, the planting of genetically improved stock began. Ten years later, forest tree biotechnology emerged and encompassed a developing collection of tools for modifying tree physiology. Then, in the 1990’s, modern biotechnology including tree culture and genetic modification began to be undertaken in forestry in earnest.

Is It Helpful or Unhelpful?

Why is Forest Biotechnology Bad For The Environment?

Wood provides us with fuel, construction materials and

paper, and its supplies are dwindling rapidly. Wood products

are a $400 billion global industry, employing 3 million

people, and demand is rising, even as major economies,

are unable to grow enough trees to meet their current demand.

What Are Scientists Doing To Boost Productivity?

Scientists are using biotechnology to create cold tolerant trees,

disease- and insect-resistant trees and to increase their growth

rates. They are also learning how to improve the efficiency with

which trees convert solar energy into plant material and to move

more of that energy into wood production and less into pollen,

flowers or seeds. All of these methods of increasing productivity

should lighten the pressure on natural forests.

How Does This Help Our Enviornment And Economic System?

Biomass from trees will be increasingly utilized as a renewable energy source, as well as a carbon sink to help control global warming. It also means herbicide (a substance that is toxic to plants) tolerance should provide lower cost, more efficient, and less energy intensive means for weed control in plantations. Pest tolerance should improve yields, reduce product degradation, and in some cases reduce the use of pesticides.


Bio Technology Presentation Prep & 09d-BiotechGuide2008.pdf