Friday, April 24, 2009
It's Arbor Day~Biotechnology comes to the forest & orchard
Well, just thought I had better check to see if our trees are being genetically modified like our vegetables and livestock are and sure enough this has been experimented with for 20 years or so. Yep. when you get ready to plant a tree you can be sure that it is something of your own choice, shape, texture, and best of all, Roundup Ready.
Genetically engineered trees sprouting quietly... for now
Two poplar leaves. The one on the right is from a genetically modified tree.
Posted 7/31/2003 2:48 PM
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Roll over John Muir and tell Johnny Appleseed the news: biotechnology is coming to the forest and orchard.
Scientists are planting genetically engineered trees in dozens of research projects across the country, ignoring the pleas of environmentalists who fear dangerous, unintended consequences.
"It won't be as widespread as agricultural biotechnology, but it could be much more destructive," said Jim Diamond, chairman of the Sierra Club's genetic engineering committee. "Trees are what's left of our natural environment and home to endangered species."
The Sierra Club wants a moratorium on the planting of genetic engineered trees outdoors until the science is better understood. But like a tree falling deep in the forest, its call has gone unheeded.
The tree researchers say their critics are missing all the ways that science can give Mother Nature a fighting chance against ravages natural and manmade.
Biotechnology, they say, may provide just what's needed to help reverse global deforestation and industrial pollution while satisfying increased demand for wood and paper products. The Pentagon is even tinkering with pine trees as possible warning systems against germ and chemical attacks.
A Dwarf Pear Tree: Another Genetic Engineering First
By Judy McBride
July 2, 1999
The first genetically engineered dwarf pear tree of an existing variety has been developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists. Dwarf trees are more productive than traditional-size trees and offer growers other advantages as well.
ARS horticulturists Ralph Scorza and Richard Bell at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearnesyville, WV, dwarfed Bosc pear trees by inserting a gene originally isolated from a bacterium. The new dwarf trees are growing in greenhouses at the lab, and the scientists expect the trees to bear fruit in about two or three years.
The bacterial gene can be used to dwarf rootstocks or to make the scion—the top part of the tree—smaller or dwarf. According to Bell, the pear industry relies on only a few major varieties and needs to improve them. Dwarfing will do that.
In addition to being more productive, dwarf fruit trees allow high-density plantings of smaller trees that can produce more fruit in the same area of land than the larger, standard-size trees. And they’re easier to manage, prune, spray and harvest. Fruit from a dwarf tree is the same size as fruit from a normal tree.
For those growers not interested in dwarf trees, Scorza and colleagues
have developed a peach tree with a new, columnar shape. Perfect for the home gardener with limited space, the columnar tree has upright, narrow branches that grow close to the tree trunk without shading other fruit or vegetables that may be growing nearby.
Like dwarfs, the columnar trees require much less management and will allow high-density growing. They eliminate the large space necessary between traditional trees. Therefore, chemicals and fertilizer need be applied only to a very small area, saving the grower money and reducing environmental impacts. Compared to traditional size trees, at least three times as many columnar trees can be grown per unit of land.
These new trees—which bear excellent quality fruit—are expected to be available to home gardeners within the next few years.
ARS is USDA’s chief scientific research agency. A more detailed story on this research is available in the agency’s July Agricultural Research magazine, available on the Internet at: ars.usda.gov
Don't forget to save your seeds folks...G: