play prominent and diverse roles in the lives of people, biotic communities,
and ecosystems. We are economically dependent on forests for numerous
products, but also tend them to provide sources of clean water, habitat,
and recreational and spiritual sanctuaries. Because of the broad array
of uses and functions for forests, changes in the species or genetic characteristics
of the trees that dominate them are of significant ecological and societal
ability to genetically modify forest trees via asexual methods is in its
infancy. However, some kinds of modified trees could find their way out
of laboratories and field plots and onto the world's landscapes within
a few years. Many more possibilities for genetic modification will soon
arise as a result of the genomics revolution in biology--where thousands
of genes can be isolated and studied in a modest time frame.
kinds of genes employed, and the kinds of tree species and productions
systems in which they are inserted, are extraordinarily diverse. Generalities
about benefits and safety of GM trees are therefore of very limited scientific
value. A key goal of this symposium is to move past generalities and consider
specific ecological benefits and safety concerns that apply to diverse
kinds of genetic alterations and management regimes.
the use and control of genetically modified trees affects the societal
distribution of their benefits and risks, both real and perceived, the
symposium will begin with consideration of societal and ethical context
within which genetically modified trees are considered and employed. Ecological
issues will comprise the majority of the symposium.
symposium is planned for July 22-24, 2001, at Skamania Lodge, in the Columbia
River Gorge near Portland, Oregon.It
will begin with a reception the evening of July 22, plenary lectures will
occur on July 23, then breakout sessions and summary lectures will be
held on July 24. It will be held as a satellite meeting,
in conjunction with a week-long international meeting of the International
Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) unit on Molecular Biology
of Forest Trees:
break-out sessions, described below, will be employed to analyze and make
recommendations about specific ecological issues. Each
breakout session will be repeated at least once to give different subsets
of participants a chance to reach independent conclusions. Results of
the breakout sessions will be presented to the reconvened group. The meeting
will end with summary perspectives from several speakers, including the
moderators, and a written survey of views.
proceedings with short papers from the speakers, including a summary of
the break-out sessions and surveys, will be edited, formatted, publicized
widely, and made available internationally via the world wide web.
Dr. Hal Salwasser
Environmental and Social Contexts for Forest Biotechnologies
Salwasser is Dean of the College of Forestry at Oregon State University,
and former Research Station Director and Regional Forester for the United
States Forest Service. He is a wildlife biologist, former President of
the Wildlife Society, and played a major role in moving the U.S. Forest
Service toward ecologically based forest management systems.
Scope, guidelines, and goals for symposium
Strauss leads a university-industry consortium on forest biotechnology
focused on analysis of and genetic engineering solutions to ecological
concerns of gene flow from transgenic plantations.
Risser is President of Oregon State University and an ecologist who
has been active in resolving national and international ecological and
Michael Clegg and Hal Salwasser
Moderating the symposium toward meaningful
exchange and synthesis
Clegg is Professor at the University of California, Riverside, and
a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. He is a world renowned
plant geneticist who studies molecular mechanisms of plant diversity and
evolution, and has been involved with several studies of issues surrounding
contribution of biotechnology and forest plantations in global wood supply
and forest conservation
Sedjo is a resource economist at Resources for the Future in Washington,
D.C. He has written widely on the role of plantations in meeting
global fiber demands, and the potential for biotechnology to elevate economic
and forest protection: a long-term, global view
David G. Victor is the Director, Science and Technology Program, at
the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. He has written widely
on international environmental law; trade and environment; energy technology;
and global warming.
W. Steven Burke
new questions: The societal and ethical imperatives of forest biotechnology,
and the role of the Institute of Forest Biotechnology
Burke is Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and External Relations,
North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Mr. Burke has worked on development
of new biotechnology communities, shaped by geography and content area,
and the associated public, societal, and ethical issues that must necessarily
be considered in those communities. The
Institute of Forest Biotechnology was created in 2000 by senior representatives
of the academic, industry, and policy sectors, to assist in the effective
and thoughtful development of forest biotechnology worldwide.
Alan Lucier, Rex McCullough, and Dr Maud Hinchee
and the forest products Industry
Lucier is Senior Vice President of the National Council of Air and Stream
Don S. Doering
the marketplace see the sustainable forest for the transgenic trees?
Doering is on the senior staff of the World Resources Institute, a
leading research institute in environment and development policy and action.
He leads a project on genetic engineering that engages the private sector
on business and scientific strategy to serve sustainability goals of food,
material, and environmental security.
Paul B. Thompson
of molecular silviculture
Thompson is the author of Food Biotechnology in Perspective and internationally
known for his work on the environmental ethics of genetic engineering.
He holds the Joyce and Edward E. Brewer Chair in Applied Ethics at Purdue
and social considerations in commercial uses of transgenic food and fiber
Thomas heads the Program at Bioethics at the Nuffield Foundation in
the UK, and led in the production of their landmark 1999 report entitled
"Genetically Modified Crops: the Social and Ethical Issues."
GOVERNMENT AND REGULATION
John Kough and David Heron
Transgenic Plants in the United States
Kough is a scientist in the biopesticides program at the US Environmental
Protection Agency. It has authority for regulation of trees with pest
resistance genes incorporated via asexual gene transfer methods.
Dr. Heron has been a key scientist on the plant biotechnology regulatory
team at USDA, and has participated in many national and international
fora concerning regulation of transgenic crops that have interfertile
wild relatives, including trees.
regulation and public acceptance of GM trees: demanding a new approach
to risk assessment
Sue Mayer is the Executive Director of GeneWatch based in the UK.
She has a PhD in Veterinary Cell Biology from Bristol University, was
Director of Science at Greenpeace UK from 1990-1995 where she was involved
in developing policy on genetically modified organisms, and is currently
a member of the UK Government's Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology
Dave Ellis and
feasibility of genetic engineering in forestry: Transformation, transgene
stability, sterility, and somaclonal variation.
Ellis is a leading researcher at a private biotechnology company, and
has produced and tested transgenic conifer and hardwood trees for a number
of years. Dr. Meilan is Associate Director
of The Tree Genetic Engineering Research Cooperative at Oregon State University
and has worked with forest industries on field assessments of transgenic
Rowland Burdon and Christian Walter
on risk of transgenic forest plantations in relation to conventional breeding
and use of exotic pines and eucalypts: Viewpoints of practicing breeding
and transformation scientists.
Burdon, who is currently Science Fellow at the New Zealand Forest
Research Institute, is widely known in the fields of tree breeding and
quantitative genetics. Also at
NZFRI, Dr Walter is a leading scientist in the field of conifer genetic
engineering, and has developed transformation protocols for a variety
of conifer species.
of transgenic resistance in short-rotation poplars: Efficacy, risk, and
integration with other pest management tactics
Raffa is at the university of Wisconsin, and has been a leader in
assessing how to use insect-resistant trees within integrated resistance
management programs to increase the durability of resistance and minimize
and Tat Smith
and landscape considerations for intensive forestry systems
Boyle is a Professor of Forestry and Soil Ecology at Oregon State
University. He has taught and studied forest ecosystem sustainability
for more than three decades, and co-edited the books "Planted Forests:
Contributions to the Quest for Sustainable Societies" and "Forest
Soils and Ecosystem Sustainability." Dr Lundkvist is a Professor
of Soil Ecology at the Forestry Faculty of The Swedish University of Agricultural
Sciences. Her research is focussed upon how soil organisms and processes
are affected by forest management practices. Dr.
Smith is a Professor of Forest Ecology and Soils and Head of the Department
of Forest Science at Texas A&M University. He has conducted extensive
research on environmental sustainability of intensive forest management
systems around the world.
Faith T. Campbell
engineered trees: proceed only with caution
Campbell heads the invasive species program at American Lands Alliance,
an environmental organization committed to protecting forests and other
ecosystems. Dr. Campbell has written widely on the policy challenges posed
by invasive alien plants and forest pests and — more recently — on those
raised by genetically engineered trees.
implications of transgenic plantations
Hayes is an Associate Professor of wildlife ecology in the Department
of Forest Science at Oregon State University and is program coordinator
for the Cooperative Forest Ecosystem Research (CFER) program. His research
has emphasized the biodiversity implictions of forest management.
Brian Johnson and Keith Kirby
effects of genetically modified trees on biodiversity of forest plantations:
a global view
Johnson is head of biotechnology assessment, for English Nature, a
statutory body that advises the UK government on impacts of agriculture
and forestry practices on ecological health of the British environment,
and maintains legally protected areas and national nature reserves. Dr.
Kirby directs forestry conservation and restoration programs for English
Jim Hancock and Karen Hokanson
of transgenic vs. exotic plant species: How useful is the analogy?
Hancock is a Professor at Michigan State University and author of
the book "Crop Evolution and the Origin of Crop Species." He has have
published a number of articles on the risk of pollen escape, and has been
an invited panalist at a number of national and international conferences
on transgenic risk assessment. Dr. Hokanson is currently on the Environmental
Monitoring Team of the Invasive Species and Pest Management Unit with
sessions will address the appropriate global and biological contexts within
which transgenic trees should be considered; the desirability, feasibility,
and implications of genetically engineered fertility reduction; and implications
of wood and pest management traits that could realistically be employed
in production forests within the next two decades. The tentative list
of breakout sessions and the questions they will seek answers to are shown
below. Major questions for consideration are shown with bullets; ancillary
questions are indented and without bullets.
SOCIAL / GLOBAL CONTEXT
Economic risks and benefits. Can GM trees make a significant contribution
to economic efficiency of global forestry?
Environmental risks and benefits. Can GM trees make a significant
contribution to environmental soundness of global forestry?
What are the most urgent research needs to address scientific and
Should there be a moratorium on field and/or laboratory research?
What is a wise pace of research, development, and deployment
given global economic and environmental pressures from expanding
population and consumption?
Would a more transparent and accessible system for commercial
use, one that is less proprietary and provides for public monitoring
of results of large scale applications, improve public acceptance
& progress? Or might this have the opposite effect by discouraging
investment and encouraging vandalism and misrepresentations?
Would a regulatory system that includes more diverse public
input on non-technical issues (ethics, social benefits, etc.)
improve acceptance and use, or exacerbate political gridlock
and misunderstanding, generated by those strongly opposed?
BIOLOGICAL CONTEXT /
Considering that GM trees in forestry will be used largely in intensive
plantation systems for the foreseeable future, are the ecological
issues that GM plantations present significantly different in magnitude
than those already inherent in those systems (e.g., exotics, hybrids,
intensive breeding, intensive silviculture)? How?
On what scale (stand, landscape, globe) should effects of GM plantations
on biodiversity be considered?
Will GM trees that are herbicide resistant, insect resistant, sterile,
or have modified wood cause unacceptable impacts on biodiversity?
To what extent are experiments on a large scale (plantations, landscapes)
required for learning about benefits and ecological concerns, or can
these be adequately be predicted from greenhouse and small-scale trials?
For what plantation systems/species, if any, would a lack of
flowering be a significant biodiversity concern?
F) Can GM trees with these traits result in economic benefit
and increased biodiversity at the stand or landscape levels
with proper management?
FERTILITY REDUCTION / INVASIVENESS
Are fertility reduction systems needed, or desirable, to minimize
spread of ALL types of GM trees?
What kinds of GM traits, if any, are expected to lead to increased
weediness, invasiveness, or dysgenesis? Do single genes for pest resistance,
such as Bt, pose significant risks for ecological damage due to increased
invasiveness by forest trees?
For what kinds of GM traits, in what species and environments, are
fertility control systems highly desirable? Why?
How effective must fertility reduction systems be (stability, efficiency),
when needed, to give tolerable environmental impacts? Can transgenes,
using best current transformation technology, provide adequate stability
in expression of sterility genes? How can this be determined, established
via research, and monitored?
Is the analogy between GM species and planned introduction of beneficial
species a useful one, or a misleading one, considering the magnitude
of their biological risks and potential for unpredictable impacts
on the environment?
Should all GM trees be considered potentially invasive until
proven otherwise via experimentation? How can this be done with
G) Do GM trees, currently foreseeable, pose a threat to wild
forests through their increased invasiveness?
What are the goals of wood domestication? How do GM goals differ from
those of conventional breeding? How much variation exists among and
Do trees with GM wood pose greater concerns than those of genetically
novel trees produced during conventional breeding (families, clones,
Do trees with GM wood pose risks that cannot be assessed during field
testing over multiple years and environments that is part of conventional
D) Would trees with GM wood require special containment or deployment
considerations in any circumstances? When?
TRAITS THAT FACILIITATE PEST MANAGEMENT
Can insect resistance that results from one or few types of transgenes
(e.g. Bt), be considered sustainable in plantation forestry? Can transgenic
systems be considered sustainable, even if specific genes are not
(e.g., sequential uses of different transgenes)? In what kinds of
plantation systems and species is major gene insect resistance an
Are non-target effects of pest resistance transgenes on insects and
soil organisms likely to be great or modest? Will they be similar
in magnitude to other impacts from intensive silviculture of plantation
forests (species, genetics, weed control, density control, fertilization)?
Are herbicide resistant trees expected to have significant economic
or environmental benefits? Why and where?
Are herbicide resistant trees expected to lead to significant environmental
damage? Why and where?
from the symposium: Reducing diverse views to research priorities, policy,
Each pair of speakers will present their views of the key points reached,
and areas of consensus and disagreement.
Consensus biotechnology statement
Consensus environmental statement
perspectives, synthesis statement
Dr. Botkin is a senior forest ecologist
who has worked and written widely on diverse environmental and forestry
issues. He now serves on the biotechnology Advisory Committee of the USDA.
Dr. McCullough served as Senior Vice President for Research at Weyerhaeuser
Corporation, and has been a national and international leader in setting
research directions for forestry science.