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Supertrees! Genetically altered trees show amazing results

Last Updated: Saturday, August 5, 2000 - 00:00

Genetically altered trees have
enormous economic potential as they live long and have a high
biological productivity, but its ecological and environmental
implications are yet unclear, experts have said.

In an orchard in Canada, genetically altered fruit trees
kill insects on contact without pesticide sprays. Soon they
will bear apples whose crispy white flesh won't turn brown
even hours after being cut.

In Israel, popular trees have been made to grow so fast
that they could eliminate the need to log old growth forests,
while gobbling enough carbon dioxide to slow global warming.

These and other equally attractive trees, said the paper,
are growing on scores of test plots around the world, part of
a little noted biotech revolution in forestry that experts
predict will hit its commercial stride in the next five years.

Building on a decade of practice in crops like soyabeans
and cotton, researchers at universities and at a few
biotechnology companies have been perfecting the art of
injecting novel genes into the cells of trees.

Now, scientists say, they are poised to harness the
enormous economic potential of the biggest, longest-lived and
most biologically productive plants on earth.

In the past decade, about 130 outdoor varieties of
genetically modified trees have got the go-ahead from the US
agriculture department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service (APHIS).

Report: Zeenext Bureau

First Published: Saturday, August 5, 2000 - 00:00

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