Global benefits of genetic modification science

Global benefits of genetic modification science

Environmental benefits. Research that allows production of more and better timber and timber products from plantation forests helps alleviate pressure to log native forests. Genetic modification can be used to improve specific traits in trees that could lead to environmental benefits such as drought tolerance, increased carbon sequestration, or better options for the production of biofuels.  

Forestry benefits
. On a commercial scale, genetic modification can improve individual tree characteristics, including traits such as: pulpability, wood quality (e.g. strength, stiffness and density), increased carbon sequestration, herbicide resistance, pest and disease resistance, environmental stress tolerance (e.g. cold, drought), and reproductive function.

The increased productivity of plantation forests can help meet rising global demand for fibre.

Internationally, genetically modified crops have enabled significant reduction in the use of pesticides and demonstrated increased productivity and increased sustainability. Uptake of the technology in agriculture continues globally at a fast pace because of the benefits to growers, processors and consumers.

Scientific benefits
. The results from Scion’s field trials will increase scientific understanding of the mechanisms of wood development and reproductive development, and how they can be modified to meet economic, social and environmental goals.

Results from Scion’s trials will help the New Zealand public, the forest industry, and legislative and regulatory agencies to make decisions about the commercial use of genetic modification technology in forestry.

Economic benefits. New Zealand requires the development and application of science to remain competitive in the global marketplace, which is increasingly adopting genetic modification technologies. With an economy dependent on primary product exports, New Zealand relies on agricultural and forestry innovation to ensure its future economic competitiveness.

Scion has developed a bioenergy scenario that shows how New Zealand could gain a long-term, sustainable alternative to imported transport fuels by establishing 1.8 million ha of energy forests on some of our marginal land. By 2035, Scion estimates that there will be a net gain to the New Zealand economy of $4.5 billion per year based on projected oil prices ($120-140/bbl). The scenario would reduce New Zealand’s total reliance on imported oil for energy by 60%. Genetic modification of trees for bioenergy has the potential to introduce greater gain or process improvements that will make bioenergy production more sustainable and economic.