Keywords: genetic engineering, genetically modified trees, GM trees, forestry, biotechnology, attitudes, public perceptions, GM debate, GM food, genetically modified organisms, GMOs
GM technology in forestry: lessons from the GM food 'debate'
This paper aims to demonstrate the important lessons to be learnt from the Genetically Modified (GM) food 'debate', by examining the similarities of, and differences between, it and GM technology in forestry. Through consideration of a range of issues, such as technological applications, public concerns and the role of protest groups, it is concluded that the commercialisation of GM trees is likely to be as problematic as the commercialisation of GM crops has been in certain parts of the world. Therefore, it is recommended that public concerns be investigated, that attempts be made to value the wider potential costs and benefits of the technology to forestry, and that protest groups be listened to. Only through attempting to address these issues might it be possible to avoid the development of a 'debate' surrounding GM forestry that is as polarised and entrenched as that relating to GM food.