by- Shannon Smith and Amy Chen
What is Forest Biotechnology?
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.