International Symposium on Ecological and Societal Aspects of

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Proceedings of the First International Symposium on
Ecological and Societal Aspects of Transgenic Plantations,
S.H. Strauss and H.D. Bradshaw, eds. College of Forestry,
Oregon State University, 2001. pp. 29-46.

The Economic Contribution of Biotechnology and
Forest Plantations in Global Wood Supply and Forest
Roger A. Sedjo

                                                                  Over the past 30 years industrial plantation forests have become a major supplier of
                                                             industrial wood. The reasons for this change are several and include the improved eco-
                                                             nomics of planted forests due to technological innovations, the increases in natural forest
                                                             wood costs due to increasing inaccessibility and rising wood costs from natural forests due
                                                             to various pressures from environmentalists to reduce harvesting in old-growth forests.
                                                                  Forestry today is on the threshold of the widespread introduction of biotechnology
                                                             into its operational practices in the form of sophisticated tissue cultures, which produce
                                                             clonal seedlings, and through the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which
                                                             produce desired tree and wood traits. As more of the world’s industrial wood is being
                                                             produced on planted forests, the potential to introduce genetic alterations into the germ
                                                             plasm utilized in planting is obvious. In many cases the biotechnology likely to be intro-
                                                             duced in forestry is simply an extension of that being utilized in agriculture, e.g., herbi-
                                                             cide-tolerant genes. However, biotechnology in forestry is also developing applications
                                                             unique to forestry, e.g., genes for fiber modification, lignin reduction and extraction, and
                                                             to promote straight stems and reduced branching.
                                                                  This paper discusses the growing role of plantation forests and the potential impacts
                                                             of biotechnology on forestry. Traditional breeding and some aspects of biotechnology are
                                                             discussed briefly and some of the various types of biotechnological innovations in progress
                                                             in forestry and that may be forthcoming over the next decade or two are identified. A
                                                             quantitative estimate is made of the potential economic impact of one transgenic applica-
                                                             tion—that of the herbicide-resistant gene in forestry—and some of the potential environ-
                                                             mental benefits associated with various types of biotechnology innovations are discussed.
                                                             The potential benefits from the introduction of biotechnology to forestry promise to be
                                                             large. For example, the widespread use of the herbicide-resistant gene for planted forest
                                                             establishment is estimated to have potential cost-savings approaching $1 billion annually.
                                                             The economic benefits will be found in the form of lower costs and increased long-term
                                                             availability to consumers of wood and wood products.
   Roger A. Sedjo is                                              Additionally, there is the potential for substantial environmental benefits from bio-
   Senior Fellow and direc-                                  technology in forestry. An environmental implication of the increased productivity of
                                                             planted forests due to biotechnology is likely to be that large areas of natural forest might
   tor of the Forest Econom-                                 be free from pressures to produce industrial wood, thereby being better able to provide
   ics and Policy Program,                                   biodiversity habitat. The shift away from harvesting natural forests to alternative planta-
                                                             tion wood sources is already well underway. Also, other environmental benefits from for-
   Resources for the Future,                                 est biotechnology are likely. Through biotechnology, trees can be modified so as to allow
                                                             them to grow in previously unsuited areas, e.g., arid and saline areas. This characteristic
   Washington, DC.
                                                             could not only increase wood outputs, but might be appropriate for promoting increased
                                                             carbon sequestration, which could contribute to the mitigation of the global warming
                                                             problem, or through the provision of other environmental functions, such as enhanced
                                                             watershed protection. Additionally, biotechnological innovation can be used in the resto-

     ration and rehabilitation of badly disturbed species or habitats. For example, biotechnol-
     ogy gives promise for the restoration of the almost extinct American chestnut tree in the
     United States. Finally, biotechnology gives promise of providing enhanced potential for
     carbon sequestration from more rapidly growing planted forests. This could result in a
     greater contribution of forest sinks to addressing the global warming problem.
          The health, safety, environmental and ownership dimensions of biotechnology some-
     times raise concerns, although in forestry, these differ in some important ways from the
     concerns of agriculture. Wood is rarely ingested directly by humans and thus, food health
     or safety is generally not an issue, although cellulose is sometimes used as a “filler” in food
     products. Also, ownership and property rights issues related to biotechnological innova-
     tions appear to be more tractable in the longer harvest rotation of forestry than in typical
     seasonal agriculture. In most cases the concerns associated with forestry related to the pos-
     sibility of genetic escape from transgenic to wild trees. Although many of these risks ap-
     pear to be negligible, transgenic trees that involve significant risks could be avoided while
     society still provides for the introduction of negligible risk plant genetic alterations.

                   ver the past 30 years industrial plantation forests have become a ma-
                   jor supplier of industrial wood, gradually displacing wood from natural
                   forests. The reasons for this change include the improved economics
     of planted forests due to technological innovations, relative increases in wood costs
     from natural forests due to rising extraction costs, and pressures by environmen-
     tal activists to reduce harvesting in old-growth forests.
          Forestry is currently undergoing an important transition from a wild resource,
     which had typically been foraged, to a planted agricultural crop, which is har-
     vested periodically, as are other agricultural commodities—only the time scale
     for forestry is longer. The transition of forestry from foraging to an agricultural
     cropping mode has been underway on a significant scale only within the past
     half century or less (Sedjo 1999). Planted forests benefit from the same types of
     innovations that are common in other agriculture. As with other agriculture, eco-
     nomic incentives for investments in plant domestication, breeding and plant im-
     provement activities will occur when the investor can capture the benefits of the
     improvements and innovations. As in other types of agriculture, early plant im-
     provements involved identification of trees with desired traits and attempts to
     capture offspring that had the desired traits through the identification of superior
     trees. In recent decades traditional breeding techniques have been practiced in
     forestry as they have been in other agriculture. In the 1990s, however, modern
     biotechnology, including tissue culture, began to be undertaken in earnest in for-
     estry. Additionally, a relatively large number (124) of confined traits of transgenic
     trees have been undertaken in the U.S., but only one transgenic tree species (pa-
     paya) has been authorized for release (McLean and Charest 2000).
          The benefits from the introduction of biotechnology to forestry have the
     potential to be large. The economic benefits will be found in the form of lower
     costs and increased availability to consumers of wood and wood products. Addi-
     tionally, biotechnological innovation has the potential to beneficially address a
     number of important environmental issues. Biotechnology can be used in the
     rehabilitation of habitats under pressure either from an exotic disease, as with the
     American chestnut tree (Castenea dentate) in the United States (Bailey 1997), or

from invasive exotics. Additionally, an             This paper is organized as follows.         Recent decades have seen continu-
implication of the increased productiv-        The general introduction of plantation     ing increases in biological productivity,
ity of planted forests due to biotech-         forestry biotechnology is followed by      especially in agriculture. This has been
nology may be that large areas of natu-        a discussion of the application of tra-    driven largely by technological innova-
ral forest might be free from pressures        dition breeding and modern biotech-        tions that have generated continuous
to produce industrial wood, perhaps            nology to tree improvements. The next      improvements in the genetics of prima-
thereby being better able to provide           section presents a broad overview of       rily domesticated plants and animals.
biodiversity habitat. Also, through bio-       the application of traditional breeding    Much of this improvement has been
technological improvements trees can           and modern biotechnology, including        the result of plant improvements that
be modified so as to allow them to             genetic modification, to trees. The sec-   have been accomplished by traditional
grow in previously unsuited areas, e.g.,       tion also discusses the various types of   breeding techniques through which
arid lands, saline areas and so forth,         biotechnological innovations in for-       desired characteristics of plants and
thereby providing missing environmen-          estry that could be forthcoming in the     animals, e.g., growth rates or disease
tal functions, such as watershed protec-       next decade or so. The third section       resistance, can be incorporated into the
tion. Such uses could not only increase        undertakes a case study that estimates     cultivated varieties of the species in
wood outputs, but might be appropri-           the potential benefits associated with     question.
ate for promoting increased carbon se-         the use of a herbicide resistant gene in         Changes driven by technology,
questration in forest sinks and thereby        forestry and discusses broadly the types   however, are not new. Hayami and
contributing to the mitigation of the          of potential economic benefits that so-    Ruttan (1985) have pointed out that
global warming problem (IPCC 2001).            ciety could realize from biotechnology.    in the United States, most of the in-
      The ownership and environmental          This is followed by a discussion of po-    creased agricultural production that
dimensions of biotechnology in forestry        tential environmental benefits and an-     occurred in the two centuries before
differ in some ways from agriculture and       other section on concerns associated       1930 was the result of increases in the
so raise somewhat different questions.         with biotechnology. Finally, the paper     amount of land placed in agriculture,
Ownership and property rights issues           presents a summary of the implications     and most of the increased production
related to biotechnological innovations        of biotechnology to forestry.              reflected increased inputs in the form
appear to be more tractable in the longer                                                 of labor saving technology—either ani-
harvest rotation of forestry than in typi-                                                mal or mechanical. In Japan, however,
cal seasonal agriculture. This is because      OVERVIEW                                   where land was limited, substantial
it usually takes several years before a tree                                              improvements in rice productivity were
will flower and the seed is available; by            The domestication of a small         made by careful selection of superior,
that time the seed technology may have         number of plants, particularly wheat,      yield-increasing seed. Land productiv-
become obsolete. On the environmen-            rice, and maize, is among the most sig-    ity in grain production in the United
tal side, unlike most agriculture there are    nificant accomplishments in the hu-        States showed little increase until the
few major concerns for direct health or        man era. Modern civilization would be      1930s, as most of the gains in produc-
safety from the consumption of geneti-         impossible without this innovation.        tion were due to innovations that al-
cally modified wood products, although         Common features associated with plant      lowed more land to come into produc-
cellulose is sometimes used as filler in       domestication include high yields, large   tion, e.g., new equipment and mecha-
food products. There are, however, con-        seeds, soft seed coats, non-shattering     nization. By contrast, land productiv-
cerns related to genetic transfers that        seed heads that prevent seed dispersal     ity in Japan was a function of biotech-
might occur between transgenic and             and thus facilitate harvesting, and a      nological improvements in the form of
wild trees, and the potential implications     flowering time that is determined by       improved seed and increased yields.
for the natural environment.                   planting date rather than by natural       However, in the United States after the
                                               day length (Bradshaw 1999).                1930s, when most of the highly pro-

 ductive agricultural land was in the         dertaken in forestry in earnest. As more forest were often established on grass-
 U.S., the focus of innovation was re-        of the world’s industrial wood is being lands.
 directed to plant improvement, which         produced on planted forests, the poten-              It was soon recognized that if the
 increased land productivity through          tial to introduce genetic alterations into costs of planting were to be under-
 higher yields. Until fairly recently these   the germ plasma utilized in planting is taken, the effect would be enhanced to
 improvements were achieved through           obvious. Commercial forestry today is the extent that improved seed or tree
 the use of traditional plant breeding        on the threshold of the widespread in- seedlings could be used. Thus, the de-
 techniques, which gradually increased        troduction of biotechnology in the cision to plant also provided incentive
 agricultural yields.                         form of sophisticated tissue cultures for for tree improvement. Initially, tree
                                              cloning seedlings, and in the form of improvement was accomplished
                                              genetically modified organisms.                 through traditional breeding tech-
 Plantation Forestry                                Early tree planting activities typi- niques.
                                              cally consisted of replanting seedlings
      Planted forests for timber began        after timber harvest. Factors important
 in earnest in the 19th century in Eu-        in the decision to replant included The Effects of
 rope and about the middle of the 20th        property rights—so that those who Plantation Forests
 century in North America. Over the           bore the costs of replanting would be
 past 30 years industrial plantation for-     able to capture the benefits of the fu-              Figure 1 provides a simple sche-
 ests have become a major supplier of         ture harvest—and protection capacity, matic that illustrates the effects asso-
 industrial wood. The reasons for this        which helped ensure that the tree crop ciated with the lowering of costs pro-
 change are several. These include the        would not be destroyed prematurely by vided by planted forests. In the ab-
 improved economics of planted forests        pest or fire. It is not a coincidence that sence of forest plantations the volume
 vis a vis natural forests, due in large      widespread tree planting occurred only of industrial wood harvested in a pe-
 part to technological innovations that       after forest control had reduced sub- riod is determined by the intersection
 increased planted forest productivity as     stantially the incidence of forest wild- of supply, S. and demand, D, at eo.
 well as to the relative increases in wood    fire (Sedjo 1991). Much of the early In this situation price is Po and the
 costs from natural forests due to ris-       planting in the United States took quantity harvested is Qo. The intro-
 ing extraction costs and pressures by        place on lands that once had been duction of relatively low cost planta-
 environmental activists to provide           naturally forested; but in more recent tion forestry is represented by the line
 more stringent harvesting standards          decades, it has occurred on land that segment aS’. At price P1 plantations
 thereby reducing harvesting in old-          had previously been used for agricul- provide cheaper source of industrial
 growth forests.                              ture. In the South, for
      In recent decades traditional           example, such land
 breeding techniques have been prac-          had often been in cot-          P                               S
 ticed in forestry as they were in other      ton or tobacco. A                                   e0
 agriculture. Early improvements in           similar phenomenon              P0
                                                                                             a             e1
 trees involved identification of “supe-      was seen in newly es-           P1                                     S'
 rior” trees with desired traits and at-      tablished planted for-
 tempts to capture offspring having the       ests overseas. In New
 desired traits. The planting of geneti-      Zealand, forests were                                                            D
 cally improved stock began about             planted on sheep pas-
 1970. In the 1990s, modern biotech-          ture, in Chile, on mar-           0               '
                                                                                             Q1 Q 0        Q1                      Q
 nology, including tissue culture and         ginal grain lands, in
 genetic modification, began to be un-        Argentina and Brazil,         Figure 1. Industrial wood.

wood than do natural forests. This                    Forest management
new source of timber results in a new            surely began in part of         Table 2. Global harvests by forest management condition,
equilibrium, e1, with a lower price, P1          the world more than             circa 1995.
and a higher harvest volume, Q1.                 2000 years ago. For ex-                                                        Percent of Global
Notice, however, that the volume har-            ample, written manage-          Forest Situation Harvest                        Industrial Wood
vested from natural forests in reduced           ment directives appeared
                                                                                 Old-growth                                              30
from Q0 to Q1'. This reflects that fact          in China as early as 100
                                                                                 Second-growth, minimal management                       14
that the low-cost plantation wood is             BC (Menzies 1985).
                                                                                 Indigenous second-growth, managed                       22
displacing wood from natural forests.            However, significant ar-
The effects of biotechnology are to              eas of managed forest           Industrial plantations, indigenous                      24
future reduce the costs of production            probably were not com-          Industrial plantations, exotic                          10
thereby shifting down even further the           mon in Europe until the         Source: Sedjo 1999.
aS’ portion of the supply curve (not             Middle Ages. Planted            Notes: Old-growth includes Canada, Russia, Indonesia/Malaysia.
shown in Figure 1).                              forests began in earnest               Second-growth, minimal management includes parts of the
                                                 in the 19th century in                 U.S. and Canada, Russia.
                                                                                        Indigenous second growth, managed: residual.
                                                 Europe, but not until
Impacts of                                       the middle of the 20th
                                                                                        Industrial plantations, indigenous: Nordic, most of Europe,
                                                                                        a large but minor portion of U.S., Japan, and some from
Biotechnologically                               century in North
                                                                                        China and India.
Induced Changes in                               America. The planting
                                                 of genetically superior                          natural forests, become increasingly at-
                                                 stock began about 1970, and the seri- tractive as an investment for produc-
                                                 ous planting of genetically modified ing future industrial wood. The plan-
       Currently, most of the world’s in-
                                                 trees is just now beginning in parts of tation manager can control some of the
dustrial wood is drawn from natural
                                                 the subtropics, such as New Zealand important variables, such as choosing
forests in what is essentially a foraging
                                                 and South America.                               a location for the planted forest and the
operation. In the past harvests occurred
                                                      As Table 2 indicates, even today a species. Former agricultural sites often
from forests created by nature as hu-
                                                 large portion of the world’s industrial are desirable locations for planted for-
mans simply collected the bounty of
                                                 wood supply originates in natural, non- ests because they are usually accessible
nature. Table 1 indicates how this pro-
                                                 managed forests. In recent decades, and reasonably flat, thereby lending
cess has changed over time as humans
                                                 however, the widespread introduction themselves to both planting and har-
gradually developed silvicultural tech-
                                                 of tree planting worldwide for indus- vesting. Often, acceptable access exists
                                                             trial wood production has via the former agricultural transport in-
Table 1. Transitions in forest management and harvests. resulted in most of the in- frastructure. The planted forest can also
                                                             creases in global harvests be- be located in proximity to important
Type                               Period                    ing drawn from planted for- markets. Within limits, the manager
Wild forests                       10,000 BC - present       ests.                                can choose a species appropriate to the
Managed forests                    100 BC - present                The potential of the site, which may also have good mar-
Planted forests                    1800 - present            widespread introduction of ket access and a reasonably short har-
                                                             genetically improved trees vest rotation.
Planted, intensively managed       1960 - present
                                                             can have important environ-                The economic advantages of
Planted, superior trees,
                                                             mental and economic ef- planted forests have led to their wide-
 traditional breeding techniques 1970 - present
                                                             fects. With increasing yields spread adoption in a number of regions
Planted, superior trees,
                                                             and shortened rotations, throughout the globe; they are having
 genetic modification              2000 - future
                                                             planted forests, rather than an important influence on global tim-

 ber supply. Over time, a greater share       of the forest. In the
                                                                          Table 3. Gains in loblolly pine from various traditional breeding
 of the world’s industrial wood supply        past, operational
 has been and will be coming from             quantities of seed
 planted forests. Planted forests today       from production Technique                                                 Increase in yields (%)
 account for most of the increased glo-       seed orchards were Orchard mix, open pollination, first generation                        8
 bal output and their production is re-       derived from open Family block, best mothers                                             11
 placing the timber formerly provided         pollination. Today, Mass pollination (control for both male and female)                  21
 by native and old-growth forests that        however, more so-
                                                                          Source: Personal communication with researchers, Westvaco Corpora-
 are no longer available for harvest due      phisticated large-
                                                                          tion, Summerville, SC.
 to political changes (e.g., Russia) or       scale, controlled-pol-
 policy changes (e.g., within the U.S.        lination techniques are in place that agricultural products, tree hybrids are
 National Forest System).                     offer the potential of further improve- often a means to improve growth and
                                              ment of the offspring of two superior other desired characteristics. Hybridiza-
                                              parents.                                           tion crosses trees that are unlikely to
 TRADITIONAL                                        The results of traditional breeding breed in nature, often where parents do
                                              approaches to improve tree yields are not occur together in sympatric popu-
 BREEDING                                     instructive to illustrate the possibilities lations. These crosses often exhibit
                                              of traditional breeding (Table 3). For growth and other characteristics that
                                              most tree species, the typical approach neither of the parent species alone can
                                              involves the selection of superior trees for match. In the United States, for example,
 Selection                                    establishment in seed orchards. Experi- several hybrid poplars have shown re-
                                              ence has shown that an orchard mix of markable growth rates, which exceed
       Tree improvement most often has
                                              first-generation, open-pollinated seed those found in parent populations.1 The
 relied on traditional breeding tech-
                                              can be expected to generate an 8% per same is true for the Eucalyptus grandis
 niques like selection of superior (plus
                                              generation improvement in the desired and urophylla hybrids in many parts of
 candidate) trees for volume and stem
                                              characteristic, e.g., yield. More sophisti- the tropics and subtropics.
 straightness, and grafting these into
                                              cated seed collection and deployment
 breeding orchards and producing seed
                                              techniques, such as collecting seed from
 orchards. When breeding orchards be-
 gin to flower, pollination of selections
                                              the best mothers (family block), can re-
                                              sult in an 11% increase in yield, while
                                                                                               B    IOTECHNOLOGY
 is artificially controlled, seeds are col-
                                              mass-controlled pollination techniques,
 lected, progeny tests are established,                                                               Biotechnologies used in forestry fall
                                              which control for both male and female
 and the best offspring are chosen for                                                           into three main areas: the use of vegeta-
                                              genes (full sibling), have increased yield
 the next cycle of breeding. By identi-                                                          tive reproduction methods, the use of
                                              up to 21%.
 fying and selecting for desired traits,                                                         genetic markers, and the production of
 breeding can select for a set of traits                                                         genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
 that can improve wood and fiber char-                                                           or transgenic trees. Most of the biotech-
 acteristics, improve the form of the                                                            nologies used in forestry today are in the
 tree, provide other desired characteris-           A variant of the traditional breed- category of tissue culture and molecular
 tics, and improve growth. These traits       ing techniques is that of hybridization, marker applications (Yanchuk 2001).
 are introduced into the genetic base         which has provided robust offspring by
 that is used for a planted forest. This      bringing together populations that do
 contributes to the more efficient pro-       not normally mix in nature. This ap-             1
                                                                                                 Growth in hybrid poplar stands is 5-10 times the
 duction of industrial wood and to an         proach is widely used in forestry. As in         rate of native forest (Toby Bradshaw, University of
 improved quality of the wood output                                                           Washington, personal communication).

Cloning and Vegetative                       modest, and therefore may be finan-               species, however, the process is more
Reproduction                                 cially justified. Additionally, because           difficult, as simple vegetative propaga-
                                             the clone provides the vehicle through            tion does not normally occur or occurs
     Vegetative reproduction comprises       which desired foreign or artificial genes         only infrequently. Here, “tissue culture”
a broad range of techniques involving        are transferred, cloning techniques               techniques provide the tools to quickly
the manipulation of plant tissue that        must be developed in order for genetic            produce genetically engineered plants
ultimately allows for vegetative repro-      engineering in forestry to be viable.             and clones to regenerate trees with de-
duction of the whole plant. Tissue cul-            The ability to use inexpensive clon-        sired traits (Westvaco 1996, pp. 8–9).
ture broadly refers to clonal techniques     ing techniques varies with species and
of growing plant tissue or parts in a        genus. For some species, typically hard-
nutrient medium containing minerals,         woods, cloning can be as simple as us-            Genetic Markers
sugars, vitamins, and plant hormones         ing the vegetative propagation properties
                                             inherent in the species to accomplish the               Genetic markers are used to try to
under sterile conditions. However, for
                                             genetic replication. This might involve           find a relationship between the mark-
some tree species, cloning approaches
                                             simply taking a portion of a small branch         ers and certain characteristics of the
have been limited thus far (Pullman et
                                             from a desired superior tree and putting          tree. A major approach to genetic ma-
al. 1998). In general, there has been
                                             it into the ground, where it will quickly         nipulation of trees utilizes molecular
greater success cloning hardwoods, e.g.,
                                             take root (rooted cuttings). Where veg-           biology. Molecular biology has two fac-
poplar and some species of eucalyptus,
                                             etative propagation is part of the natu-          ets. The first facet is that which may
than conifers.
                                             ral process, large amounts of “clonal”            aid the efficiency of traditional breed-
     The development of cloning tech-
                                             material can be propagated via rooted             ing programs. One problem with tra-
niques in forestry is important for a
                                             cuttings, the cuttings of which come              ditional approaches in tree breeding is
number of reasons. First, if superior
                                             from “hedge beds.” Here the process               the long growth cycles generally re-
trees are available, an approach must
                                             continues until sufficient volumes of veg-        quired by trees, which make this pro-
be developed to allow for the propa-
                                             etative materials with the desired genes          cess very time consuming. Techniques
gation of large numbers of seedlings
                                             are available to meet the planting re-            such as molecular biology and molecu-
with the desired characteristics if these
                                             quirements.                                       lar markers, which identify areas on the
traits are to be transferred into a
                                                   Eucalyptus, poplar, and acacia              chromosome where genes that control
planted forest. With tree planting of-
                                             tend to be effective propagators. Other           the desired traits occur, can accelerate
ten involving more than 500 seedlings
                                             genera propagate less readily. Many               the process and enhance the produc-
per acre,2 large-scale planting of im-
                                             species in the pine family, e.g., loblolly,       tivity of the traditional approach. The
proved stock would require some
                                             and to a lesser extent, slash pine, are           second facet is where specific genes are
method of generating literally millions
                                             difficult propagators. Radiata pine,              identified and modified to affect bio-
of genetically upgraded seedlings at a
                                             common in plantations in New                      chemical pathways and the resulting
relatively low cost. The costs of the
                                             Zealand and Chile, appears to have the            phenotypes. For example, lignin genes
improved seedlings are important, since
                                             best record on this account. Propaga-             can alter the amount, type, and form
the benefits of improved genetics are
                                             tion improves when certain procedures             of lignin that is produced.
delayed until the harvest. With harvests
                                             are undertaken. For example, using the                  In recent years, molecular ap-
often occurring 20 years or more after
                                             shoots emerging from newly trimmed                proaches to tree selection and breeding
planting, large costs for improved seed
                                             clonal hedges increases the probability           have shown significant promise. The
may seem difficult to justify financially.
                                             of successful regeneration. For many              molecular approach, although limited
However, if the costs of plantings are
                                                                                               in application by its expense, involves
going to be incurred, the incremental
                                                                                               genetic material being identified, col-
costs associated with planting improved      2
                                               It is estimated that 4 to 5 million trees are
                                                                                               lected, bred, and tested over a wide
genetic stock are likely to be quite         planted in the U.S. every day.
                                                                                               range of sites. Rather than simply
 choosing specific tree phenotypes on              have more than doubled those of ear-       achievable through traditional tree
 the basis of their outward appearance,            lier plantings.                            breeding. It also allows species to have
 the molecular approach identifies the                                                        attributes that would not be possible
 areas of the chromosomes that are as-                                                        through natural processes. For ex-
 sociated with the desired traits. “Mark-          Genetically Modified                       ample, in concept, frost-resistant genes
 ers” are used to identify the relative            Organisms (GMOs)                           could be transferred from plants or
 position of genes on the chromosome                                                          other organisms found in cold north-
 that control expression of a trait. This                The term biotechnology is often      erly regions to tropical plants, thereby
 approach exploits the genetic variation,          associated with generic transformations    increasing their ability to survive in
 which is often abundant, found in                 as it involves the introduction of se-     cooler climates.
 natural populations. Molecular mark-              lected foreign genes into the plant ge-          These attributes or traits can be
 ers and screening techniques can be               nome. In this approach, specific genes     characterized as silvicultural, adaptabil-
 used to examine the DNA of thou-                  are identified and modified to affect      ity, and wood quality (Table 4). Silvi-
 sands of individual trees to identify the         biochemical pathways and the result-       cultural traits would include growth
 few, perhaps less than a dozen, with the          ing phenotypes. Thus far, transgenic       rate, nutrient uptake, crown and stem
 optimal mix of genes for the desired              trees have not been used commercially      form, plant reproduction (flowering),
 outputs. These techniques are currently           for wood production (McLean and            and herbicide tolerance. Growth po-
 being applied to the development of               Charest 2000). However, the promise        tential, for example, has a substantial
 improved poplar in the United States              is substantial, as has been demonstrated   genetic component, with rates differ-
 and eucalyptus in Brazil.3                        in agriculture. Potential applications     ing by 50% between families or differ-
      Recent work on hybrid poplar in              include herbicide-resistant genes, pest-   ent clonal lines. Traditional breeding
 the Pacific Northwest has shown a                 resistant genes (Bt), and genetic alter-   approaches are steadily improving elite-
 20% increase in yields in plantations             ation that would provide certain de-       line yield potentials. A subset of these
 and an additional 20% on dry sites                sired wood characteristics—e.g., the       traits is found in Table 5. These traits
 where irrigation can be applied (east of          promise of controlling the lignin in       include those that are most likely to use
 the Cascade Mountains).4 Growth rates             trees is dependent on the ability to       biotechnology for further commercial
 with these plantations are impressive.            identify and modify lignin genes,          development. The first three traits of
 Yields are about 7 tons per acre, or              thereby altering the amount, type, and     the list in Table 5 are traits that, in the
 about 50 cubic meters per hectare and             form of lignin that is produced in the     judgment of many experts, could be
 improvements in the yield continue.5              tree (Hu et al. 1999). As noted, the       featured prominently in biotechnologi-
 These growth rates are approximately              ease of gene introduction (transforma-     cal innovations in forestry over the next
 three times the growth rates of typical           tion) varies with different tree species   decade.
 pine plantations in the southern                  and genus, and is generally more diffi-          Planted trees typically require her-
 United States. Elsewhere in the world,            cult in conifers than in hardwoods.        bicide and, in some cases, pesticide ap-
 for example, Aracruz in Brazil, yields                                                       plications for one or two years after
 of hybrid eucalyptus are reported to                                                         planting. The introduction of a herbi-
                                                   FUTURE                                     cide-resistant gene can reduce the costs
                                                                                              of herbicide applications by allowing
   Toby Bradshaw, Director of the Poplar
 Molecular Genetic Cooperative at the University                                              fewer, but more effective applications
 of Washington, Seattle, personal communication.
 Also see Westvaco 1997.
                                                   INNOVATIONS IN                             without concern over damage to the
                                                                                              seedlings. The use of a pest-resistant gene
  Toby Bradshaw, University of Washington,         FORESTRY                                   can eliminate the requirement to apply
 personal communication.
                                                                                              the pesticide altogether. Flowering con-
     Withrow-Robinson et al. (1995), p 13.             Gene alteration can result in          trol allows a delay of several years in
                                                   unique gene combinations that are not

                                                                                                             ging pressure on natural forests,
Table 4. Forest traits that can be improved through biotechnology.
                                                                                                             thereby reducing pressures on certain
Silviculture                               Adaptability                       Wood quality traits            biodiversity and habitat (Sedjo and
Growth rate                                Drought tolerance                  Wood density                   Botkin 1997). Modified tree species
Nutrient uptake                            Cold tolerance                     Lignin reduction               also show promise of being useful in
Crown/stem                                 Fungal resistance                  Lignin extraction              providing environmental services in
Flowering control                          Insect resistance                  Juvenile fiber                 areas where trees now may have diffi-
Herbicide                                                                     Branching                      culty surviving—for example, in arid
Source: Context Consulting provided information on potential innovations and their likely cost implication   or drought-prone areas, areas with sa-
based on the best judgment of a panel of experts.                                                            line conditions or frost zones. Also,
                                                                                                             given the potential of biological sinks
                                                          priority. Trials with low lignin trees             as a tool to mitigate the build-up of
Table 5. Traits of interest in forestry.                  have already been undertaken in                    greenhouse gases associated with glo-
                                                          Aracruz Cellulose in Brazil (Claes Hall,           bal warming, the ability to establish
•   Herbicide tolerance
                                                          personal communication, 20 January                 carbon sequestering plantations in re-
•   Flowering control
•   Fiber/lignin modification                             2000).                                             gions not currently forested could be-
                                                                                                             come a very important tool in mitigat-
•   Insect tolerance
                                                                                                             ing climate change (IPCC 2001).
•   Disease tolerance
•   Wood density                                          BENEFITS OF
•   Growth
•   Stem straightness                                     BIOTECHNOLOGY                                      Productivity
•   Nutrient uptake
•   Cold, wet, drought tolerance                               Benefits come in different forms.                  A distinguishing feature of the in-
                                                          The economic benefits can be realized              troduction of technology is increased
                                                          in the form of lower market costs for              productivity, e.g., in output per unit
flower initiation, non-flowering habit, or                producing products. This typically con-            input. Alternatively stated, technology
sterility. This control may be useful in                  verts into lower prices for consumers              can be viewed as either cost reducing
preventing certain transgenic plants from                 of those products. Some of these cost              or yield (output) enhancing. From a
transmitting genetically modified matter                  reductions are examined in detail later            societal point of view, this implies that
to other plants and/or from migrating                     in this paper. Additionally, benefits can          society gets more output for its expen-
into the wild.                                            be realized through the development of             diture of inputs, i.e., a societal increase
      As with pest resistance, disease re-                increased quality and/or new products.             in efficiency. For the consumer, the
sistance is also important, and the tech-                 These benefits are typically recognized            implication typically is that relative
nology for genetic modification for dis-                  within the market and are reflected by             prices of the desired good fall com-
ease resistance is fairly well developed.                 cost or price changes.                             pared with what they would have been
In New Zealand, for example, the first                         Benefits can also be realized out-            in the absence of the innovation. Plan-
applications of genetically modified                      side the market. In agriculture, for ex-           tation forestry has enjoyed success in
pine (Pinus radiata) are likely to in-                    ample, benefits can accrue due to in-              recent decades, in part, because it has
volve “stacking”, that is, combining                      creased protein content in genetically             experienced cost-reducing technology
several genetically modified genes, per-                  modified rice. One important set of                thereby giving planted forests a com-
haps including those of pest- and dis-                    nonmarket benefits in forestry has been            petitive advantage over natural old-
ease resistance and flowering control,                    the substitution of plantation grown               growth forests (Sedjo 1999). Further-
in the seedling. Lignin control is                        wood for the wood of primary forests.              more, the opportunities with the ap-
viewed by the industry as an important                    This has reduced the commercial log-               plication of biotechnology to forestry
                                                                                                             appear substantial.
 Tree Improvements                                survival, and rapid growth of raw wood           Other wood characteristics relate
                                                  material, tree improvement programs        to utility in producing the final prod-
       With the planting of trees for in- can also focus on wood quality. Wood               uct. The absence of large or excessive
 dustrial wood production, there is an quality includes a variety of character-              branching, for example, influences the
 inherent incentive to improve the qual- istics, including tree form, fiber qual-            size and incidence of knots, thereby
 ity of the germ plasma so as to gener- ity, extent of lignin, improved lignin               allowing for fuller utilization of the
 ate tree improvements that can be cap- extractability, and so forth. Further-               tree’s wood volume. Desired character-
 tured at harvest. Tree improvements more, the desired traits vary by end                    istics or properties of final paper prod-
 can take many forms (Table 6). Thus product. Wood quality may involve                       ucts include paper tear strength, sur-
 far, the most common emphases of tree one set of fiber characteristics for                  face texture, and brightness; these are
 improvement programs are increased pulping and paper production and an-                     all properties that relate in part to the
 growth rates, stem form, and disease other set of characteristics for milling               nature of the wood fiber used. Some
 resistance. Growth typically refers to and carpentry. Wood desired for fur-                 characteristics relate to wood used in
 wood volume growth or yields. Dis- niture is different from that desired for                final wood products, for example,
 ease- and pest-resistance traits are also framing lumber. In addition, some                 straightness facilitates production of
 desired to promote or insure the characteristics are valued not for their                   boards or veneer in solid wood prod-
 growth of the tree. Resistance traits utility in the final product, but for their           ucts. Other examples are related to
 may be oriented to specific problems ease of incorporation into the produc-                 milling and use in carpentry, such as
 common in the growth of particular tion process.                                            wood color, strength, and surface char-
 species or to extending the climatic                  For pulp and paper production,        acteristics. In addition, wood fiber is
 range of certain species. For example, there are certain characteristics desired            increasingly being processed into struc-
 the development of frost-resistant eu- to facilitate wood handling in the early             tural products such as strand board,
 calyptus would allow for a much stages of pulp production. For ex-                          fiberboard, and engineered wood prod-
 broader planting range for this desired ample, the straightness of the trunk has            ucts, which have their own unique set
 commercial genus. Other improvement value for improving pulp and paper                      of desired fiber characteristics.
 possibilities include, as in agriculture, products, in that less compression as-                  In recent years pulp producers
 the introduction of a herbicide-resis- sociated with straight trees generates               have begun to move away from sim-
 tant gene to allow for more efficient preferred fibers. A straight trunk is also            ply producing standardized “commod-
 use of effective herbicides, especially in important in pulp production, since it           ity” pulp and toward the production of
 the establishment phases of the planted allows ease of handling and feeding                 specialized pulp for targeted markets.
 forest. Besides ensuring establishment, into the production system. Paper pro-              For example, Aracruz, a Brazilian pulp
                                                                 duction requires fiber      company, has asserted that it can cus-
                                                                 with adequate strength to   tomize its tree fibers to the require-
 Table 6. Tree improvement programs.                             allow paper sheets to be    ments of individual customers. This
 Important attributes                                            produced on high-speed      requires increased control over the mix
                                                                 machines. Ease in pro-      and types of wood fibers used. Cus-
 • Growth rates
                                                                 cessing includes the        tomized products require customized
 • Disease and pest resistance
                                                                 breakdown of wood fi-       raw materials. However, in the case of
 • Climate range and adaptability
 • Tree form and wood fiber quality, e.g., straightness          bers in processing and      Aracruz, thus far the control has been
        of the trunk, the absence of large or excessive          the removal of lignin, a    provided through cloning, but not
        branching, the amount of taper in the trunk.             compound found in the       transgenic plants.
 • Desired fiber characteristics that may relate to ease in      tree that is removed in
        processing, e.g., the break-down of wood fibers in       the pulp-making process.
       chemical processing.

Anticipated Cost Saving                     per ton of pulp
                                                                  Table 7. Possible financial gains from future biotech innovations.
Innovations                                 output. If these
                                            costs are reduced Innovation                               Benefits*              Additional
      A recent study (Table 7) identified   $10 per m3, this                                                               operating costs

a number of innovations in forest bio-      provides a surplus Clone superior pine                20% yield increase      $40/acre or 15%–
technology believed to be feasible          (or effective cost                                        after 20 yr           20% increase
within the next decade or two and es-       reduction)       of Wood density gene Improved lumber strength                       None
timated the possible financial benefits     about $47 per ton
                                                                  Herbicide tolerance           Reduce herbicide and             None
of their introduction.6 The develop-        of wood pulp (as-
                                                                  gene in eucalyptus          weeding costs potentially
ment costs of the innovations are not       suming 4.7 cubic (Brazil)                       saving $350 or 45% per ha
considered.7 The innovations noted in       meters per tonne
                                                                  Improve fiber                 Reduce digester cost             None
Table 7 suggest a potential decrease in     of pulp), assuming
                                                                  characteristic                   potential savings
costs and/or an increase in wood vol-       wood prices are                                         of $10 per m3
ume or quality. Rates of return have        not affected. This
                                                                  Reduced amount             Increase value $15 per m3           None
been estimated from many of them.           type of innovation of juvenile wood                 (more useable wood)
For example, the 20% increased vol-         would be impor-
                                                                  Reduce lignin                 Reduce pulping costs             None
ume due to the cloning of superior          tant to the forest
                                                                                               potential of $15 per m3
pine is estimated to provide a financial    sector, since a mill
return of about 15%–20% on the in-          would be willing * The actual cost savings experienced by the tree planter will depend
                                                                  importantly on the pricing strategy used by the gene developer and the
cremental investment cost of $40 per        to offer a pre- portion of the savings to be captured by the developer and that passed on
acre. This assumes initial yields of 15     mium for wood to the grower.
m3 per ha per year and a stumpage           fiber that had a Source: Context Consulting.
price of $20 per m3. Similarly, cost sav-   low processing
ings should be realized for improved        cost. If the improved fiber is common,               AC   ERUDE STIMATE OF
innovations that reduce the amount of       then it would be expected to create
                                            processing cost savings that would
                                                                                                   G    I
                                                                                             THE LOBAL MPACT                       :
low value juvenile wood or reduce the
amount or difficulty of extracting lig-     eventually be passed on to the con-                  AC S  ASE TUDY OF
                                            sumer. Thus, substantial cost savings
nin in the pulping process.
                                            could be generated.
                                                                                                 H     R
                                                                                                   ERBICIDE ESISTANCE
      In another example given in Table
7, the herbicide and weeding potential                                                                 This section examines the poten-
cost savings in a Brazilian planted for-                                                         tial costs savings of a specific biotech-
est due to the herbicide tolerance trait                                                         nological innovation—the introduction
is estimated to generate an immediate                                                            of a herbicide-resistant gene—on the
reduction of $350 per ha in the estab-                                                           costs of establishing future commercial
lishment costs in the two- to three-year      The distribution of the benefits of a patented
                                            innovation is complex. Initially, one would expect   forests and thus on the potential future
establishment period. Obviously, this       most of the benefits of the innovation to be         timber supply. By inference, the likely
potential degree of financial benefit,      captured by the price charged for the improved       effect on harvests from natural forests
which reduces initial establishment         product. Subsequently, however, the price charged
                                                                                                 is also examined. The approach used is
                                            for the new technology typically declines. At the
costs on the order of 40%, is substan-                                                           that of a crude partial equilibrium ap-
                                            end of the patent period, the technology becomes
tial. Biotechnological innovations that     part of the public domain.                           proach,8 which estimates the cost sav-
modify wood fiber characteristics so as                                                          ings associated with the development of
                                              As is well known, once the investment is made
to reduce pulping costs have also be                                                             a specific innovation as applied to for-
                                            in innovation, it is a fixed cost and unrelated to
estimated. The value added from             the marginal cost associated with the distribution   estry—the herbicide-resistant gene. The
pulping is about $60 per m3 or $275         of the product.

 savings in plantation establishment                   resistance would re-
 costs are estimated on the basis of the               duce the costs of plan-
 data presented above. These savings are               tation establishment
 translated into the lowering of the sup-              by an average of about
                                                                                   Cost                                           S
 ply curve for planting activity. This re-             $35/acre for fast-grow-
 sults in an incremental addition to                   ing softwoods (reduced Cost1
 plantings. Due to the delay between                   costs of 15%) and an
 planting and harvest, the direct impact               average of $160/acre
 on harvests is delayed to the future tim-             for fast-growing hard-
                                                                                          0                       Q0            Q1                 Q
 ber supply.9                                          woods (reduced costs
       Figure 2 provides a schematic of                of 30%) through the Figure 2. New plantation starts.
 the demand and supply for plantation                  elimination of the
 forests. As the diagram shows, if the                 costs of other pest mitigation activities.10       Another issue is the extent to which
 costs of plantation establishment de-                 In North America about 4 million acres lower establishment costs would increase
 crease from Cost0 to Cost1, this is re-               are planted annually. If 98% (3.9 mil- total plantation establishment. Of the 10
 flected in a downward shift of the sup-               lion) are softwood and 2.0% (0.1 mil- million ha of forest planted annually, we
 ply curve from S to S’. other things                  lion) hardwood, the potential cost reduc- assume that about 1 million ha repre-
 constant, and the quantity of planta-                 tion potential at current rates of plant- sents new industrial plantations.11 As-
 tions increases from Q0 to Q1. The                    ing would be $136.5 million for soft- sume that the actual costs to the indus-
 economic benefits are the cost savings,               woods and $16 million for hardwoods try were reduced by the full amount of
 which is represented by the area be-                  or a total savings of $152.5 million an- the cost reduction realized through the
 tween the two cost curves and bounded                 nually.                                      innovation, for example, that the inno-
 by the demand curve on the right and                        Worldwide about 10 million acres vation was priced at marginal cost. This
 the vertical axes on the left.                        of plantation forest are planted per year. would be an average reduction of 22.5%
       Table 8 presents estimates of the               If the plantings are roughly 50–50 co- in plantation establishment costs. Under
 cost reduction in plantation establish-               nifer and hardwood and the plantings these circumstances what increase would
 ment for the herbicide-resistant gene                 remain unchanged, the potential saving be expected in the annual rate of plan-
 used in this study. Forest plantation es-             from the introduction of the herbicide tation establishment? The expected
 tablishment involves incurring substan-               resistant gene is $175 million for soft- amount would depend, in part, on the
 tial costs in an early period in order to             woods and $800 million for hardwoods, responsiveness of demand to price
 generate larger, but discounted, benefits             where the development of the clonal changes. This responsiveness is captured
 at some future time. High-yield planta-               prerequisite is largely developed (Table in the economist’s use of price elastici-
 tion forestry involves plantations with               9). Thus the potential global cost sav- ties.12 To examine this question, we de-
 harvest rotations of from 6 to 30 years.              ings is about $800 million annually, with
 To the extent that costs of establishment             enabling technology that is essentially 11 Sedjo (1999) estimated this to be about
 can be reduced, net benefits can be                   available today for hardwoods, and 600,000 ha for the tropics and subtropics, while
                                                                                                    the model of Sohngen et al. (1999) estimated
 achieved. Experts estimate that herbicide             roughly $975 million annually, once
                                                                                                    new plantations to be about 850,000 ha
                                                       low-cost conifer cloning has been per- annually. The somewhat higher figure used in
   A more sophisticated modeling approach would        fected. Thus, the near-term potential this study reflects the inclusion of new plantation
 involve integrating estimates into a forest sector    benefits are quite large, even if softwoods establishment in the temperate regions and
 systems model (e.g. see Sohngen et al. 1999).                                                      anecdotal evidence suggesting that these earlier
                                                       are not considered.                          estimates were on the modest side.
   It should be noted, however, that the
 anticipation of greater future supplies will effect
                                                         The percentages are based on an updating of         Price elasticity is simply the percentage change
 current actions, including current harvests (see      plantation establishments costs as found in Sedjo   in quantity divided by the percentage change in
 Sohngen et al. 1999).                                 (1983).                                             price.

velop and estimate the impacts from                    additional planting would be divided            the demand elasticity is –0.7.14 In this
three scenarios: the maximum impact,                   evenly between conifer and hardwood.            case we estimate a total of 78,750 ad-
an intermediate impact, and a low im-                  Furthermore, if we assume that growth           ditional ha planted per year with an
pact (Table 10).                                       rates on plantation forests would aver-         increase in total production at harvest
      Scenario A: Maximum Impact—                      age 20 m3 per ha per year for softwoods         of 1.969 million m3 per year. After 20
Given an initial total annual rate of glo-             and 30 m3 per ha per year for hard-             years of planting at this rate the addi-
bal planting of 1.0 million ha and as-                 woods, the result of the additional             tional continuous wood production
suming an infinite supply elasticity and               plantings would result in a future addi-        would be about 39.375 million m3 per
a unitary demand elasticity for forest                 tion to total annual production at har-         year.
plantation plantings (a derived demand),               vest of 2.5 million m3/yr. If these in-
the estimated impact would be the es-                  creases in plantings were realized each
tablishment of an additional total plant-              year for a 20-year period, about 100 mil-
                                                                                                       BENEFITS OF FOREST
ing area of 225,000 ha per year. This as-              lion m3/yr of additional industrial wood        BIOTECHNOLOGY: A
sumes that the additional planting would               production would be generated annually
                                                       after 20 years.13
reflect current mix of planting. i.e., the
                                                                                     Scenario B:       Economic Benefits
                                                                                Intermediate Im-
                                                                                pact—Suppose the             As noted, a distinguishing feature
 Table 8. Herbicide resistance benefits.                                                               of the introduction of technology is
                                                                                same conditions
 • $35/acre ($87/ha) cost reduction for fast-growing softwoods*                 obtained as in Sce-    increased productivity, for example, in
 • $160/acre ($400/ha) cost reduction for fast-growing hardwoods                nario A, except        output per unit input. From a societal
                                                                                that the supply        point of view, this implies that society
 *It should be noted that for many conifers low-cost clonal forestry is not
 well developed. Thus, the wide-spread application of GMOs to conifers is       elasticity was 1.0.    gets more output for its expenditure of
 not feasible at this time. However, New Zealand appears to have a
                                                                                In this case a total   inputs; there is a societal increase in
 workable system for Pinus radiata.
                                                                                of 112,500 addi-       efficiency. The above analysis suggests
 Source: Context Consulting.                                                                           that the annual economic benefits in
                                                                                tional ha planted
                                                                                per year would re-     reduced costs associated with the intro-
 Table 9. Potential cost saving from herbicide                  sult in a total increased produc-      duction of only one transgenic gene,
 resistant gene (in millions of U.S. dollars).                  tion at future harvest of 2.5 mil-     the herbicide-resistant gene, could re-
                                                                lion m3/year. After 20 years of        duce the global costs of the establish-
                 North America         Total global                                                    ment of planted forests by as much as
                                                                planting this would generate
 Hardwood              136.5               800.0                about 50 million m3/yr of addi-        one billion dollars annually. This cost
 Conifer*                16.0              175.0                                                       reduction implies an increased rate of
                                                                tional continuous production.
 Total                 152.5               975.0                                                       tree plantation establishment into the
                                                                       Scenario C: Estimated Mini-
 * Assumes successful development of enabling                   mum Impact—The assumption              indefinite future and more industrial
 commercial clonal technology.                                  is that supply elasticity remains      wood at lower prices in the future. Of
                                                                a +1.0, as in Scenario B, but that     course, substantial additional economic
 Table 10. Scenario summaries.                                                                         benefits could be derived from the host
                                                                                                       of other biotechnological innovations,
 Scenario     Additional   1-year       20-year
              plantings additional m3 additional m3           At the 0.5% annual increase
                                                           consumption, on a 1997 production/
 Scenario A    225,000     5.00 million 100.0 million      consumption base of 1.5 billion m3,
                                                                                                          This is approximately the recent FAO estimate
 Scenario B    112,500     2.50 million 50.0 million       global industrial wood consumption
                                                                                                       of -0.67 for the elasticity of demand for
 Scenario C     78,750     1.97 million 39.4 million       would be expected to increase about 7.5
                                                                                                       industrial roundwood.
                                                           million m3 annually.

 including a variety of additional                    Environmental Benefits                                forests by the substitution of low-cost
 transgenic trees with various other eco-             of Forest Biotechnology                               wood from plantations, biotechnology
 nomic advantages.                                                                                          improved trees could be modified to
       Furthermore, the increased bio-                     The above discussion has focused                 specifically provide certain desired en-
 logical and economic productivity of                 on the economic or financial benefits                 vironmental services. Modifications
 planted forests has important positive               of biotechnology to forestry. These fi-               that would allow trees to grow in pre-
 spillovers to the environment. In-                   nancial benefits are manifest through                 viously unsuitable areas, such as arid
 creased planted-forest productivity im-              reduced costs and/or higher production                and degraded lands, could enable trees
 plies the creation of more low-cost                  of wood, and through enhanced qual-                   to provide restoration benefits, as well
 plantation forests and lower-cost indus-             ity through improved traits and wood                  as traditional ecosystem services such
 trial wood associated with those plan-               characteristics, suitable for both solid              as erosion control and watershed pro-
 tations. Wood from planted forests de-               wood products and pulp and paper                      tection. Additionally, certain desirable
 velops a greater comparative cost ad-                products. Additionally, as discussed                  species could be modified to allow
 vantage over wood harvested from                     below and summarized in Table 11,                     them to grow in areas that were previ-
 natural forests. Thus, while harvests                biotechnology in forestry can be used                 ously unsuitable because of frosts or a
 from planted forests increase, produc-               to achieve a number of environmental                  cold climate. This modification could
 tion from natural forests declines. In               outputs and generate improvement in                   not only increase wood outputs, but
 short, plantation wood is substituted                various environmental objectives. In                  might be appropriate for environmen-
 for natural forest wood, thereby leav-               addition to the protection from har-                  tal objectives.
 ing the natural forests for other uses,              vests afforded natural and old-growth                       Additionally, biotechnology pro-
 including ecosystem and biodiversity                                                                       vides the potential of restoring species
 preservation.15                                                                                            severely damaged through pests and
                                                         The American Chestnut was decimated around         disease, such as the American chest-
    The argument that plantation wood substitutes     the turn of the 20th century by a introduced
 for wood from natural forests is substantially
                                                      fungus. However, the fungus acted only on the
 different from the issue of land involved in grain   above ground portions of the tree. Thus, live roots         And finally, forestry has been shown
 production in that forestry compares a foraging      remain and could provide the bases for a              to have substantial potential for mitigat-
 with a cropping activity. A recent FAO study         restoration should the fungus be controlled,          ing the build-up of atmospheric green
 (1996) estimated the global demand elasticity of     through genetic modification. Appropriate genes
 industrial wood at –0.67.                            appear to be available in the Chinese Chestnut.       house gases, including carbon, believed
                                                                                                            to be the cause of anticipated global
                                                                                                            warming (IPCC 2001). Biotechnology
 Table 11. Environmental benefits.                                                                          applied to forestry could assist in en-
 Environmental outputs                      Biotechnological innovations
                                                                                                            hancing the carbon sequestration ability
                                                                                                            of forests, and thereby provide additional
 Reduced pressure to log                    Plantation wood from more productive
                                                                                                            carbon mitigation possibilities.
 natural and old-growth forests.            forests will substitute for wood from natural
                                            forests at lower costs.                                               To summarize, the benefits of bio-
                                                                                                            technology in forestry can be viewed as
 Protection forests can be                  Genetically improved trees with land
 established on degraded                    protection and land restoration
                                                                                                            coming in two groupings. First, biotech-
 or arid lands.                             capabilities suited to poor sites.                              nology has generated a number of inno-
                                                                                                            vations that will significantly reduce costs
 Carbon sequestrating forest                Genetically improved trees capable of                           and/or enhance the quality of the for-
 can be established on sites                substantial carbon sequestration                                estry outputs, thereby enhancing society’s
 previously not suitable to forestry.       suited to biologically poor sites.                              efficiency in resource use. Some portion
 Species restoration.                       The potential species restoration                               of these benefits is likely to be transferred
                                            of the chestnut.                                                to the consumer through lower prices,

and we would expect the transfer to in-       controversy. The nature of the contro-      populations. In many cases plantation
crease over time. Additionally, biotech-      versy in agriculture has developed          tree species would be exotic and thus
nology has the potential to generate a        around at least five issues.                exchange would not be a factor. In
number of environmental benefits                    First, is the issue of ownership of   cases where genetic exchange could be
through its effect on the competitive         the modified genes and the question of      a problem, a method to prevent or re-
structure of the forest industry. In gen-     how much ownership/control the bio-         duce their “escape” would be to pro-
eral, this will be through decreasing the     technology companies have over their        mote sterility or reduce or delay flow-
competitive advantage of the harvest and      transgenic products after they have         ering (see DiFazio et al. 1999). The
use of natural and old-growth timber          been distributed. An important ele-         implications of gene escape are likely
and increasing the substitution and use       ment in the discussion relates to the       to differ depending on whether the
of plantation wood—thereby imparting          ongoing controversy regarding the           gene would confer a selection advan-
a degree of protection from commercial        broader philosophical issue of the own-     tage to the wild plants. This is likely
logging to the natural and old-growth         ership of biodiversity and improved         to depend upon the nature of the ge-
forests, which are viewed as having           products. Are wild genetic resources        netic alteration.
greater environmental value. Finally, the     the property of all of humanity or of            A fourth issue relates to the im-
biotechnological modification of a tree       the country in which they reside? And       pact of the biotechnology on the resis-
can allow it to perform a broader and         are developed biotechnology products        tance of the targeted pest population.
more useful set of both economic and          the property of the developer or should     It is well known that pests adapt
environmental functions and services.         they be available without royalty pay-      through natural selection to the intro-
These include, for example, enhanced          ment to all of humanity? (For example,      duction of pest-controlling chemicals.
carbon sequestration generally, and its       see, Kloppenburg, Jr. 1988; Sedjo           The same response would be expected
potential in regions that have been de-       1992.) This controversy continues to        to attempts at genetic pest control. As
graded and are currently difficult for for-   be manifest in the difficulties in inter-   in agriculture (Laxminarayan and
estry. Biotechnology can also enhance         preting and finalizing the “biodiversity    Brown 2000), in forestry there could
other desired environmental objectives,       treaty” coming out of the UNCED             be a problem of the pest population
such as restoration, watershed enhance-       “Earth Summit” meeting in Rio de            adapting to the modified gene and
ment, and erosion control in areas typi-      Janeiro in 1992.                            thereby undermining its longer-term
cally not suitable to forests and/or areas          The second issue in the overall       effectiveness. The long period of for-
subject to cold, frost, and drought.          controversy relates to the health, safety   est growth would seem to exacerbate
                                              and environmental aspects of                the problem, as it would allow insect
                                              transgenic products. Although there is      populations many generations to de-
POTENTIAL COSTS OF                            little or no evidence that transgenic       velop a resistance mechanism. Various
                                              foods are unsafe, health concerns are       approaches are being considered to
BIOTECHNOLOGY IN                              raised due to the lack of long-term ex-     overcome this problem including the
FORESTRY: SOME                                posure and experience with such prod-       continuing development of new pesti-
                                              ucts. The health issue is not generally     cides in agriculture and the use of refu-
CONCERNS                                      raised for trees as they are not usually    gia to dilute the development of resis-
                                              viewed as a human or animal food            tance in the pest population.
     Transgenic biotechnology has be-         source.                                          Finally, there is the issue of
come quite controversial when applied               A third issue with transgenic         whether biotechnology applied to ag-
to agriculture (e.g., see Science 1998).      plants is the question of genetic trans-    riculture will increase the demand for
However, in drugs, medicines, and             fer to nearby domestic or wild popu-        land, thereby putting increased pressure
pharmaceutical applications, transgenic       lations. For forestry the concern is        on natural habitats. Some recent work
biotechnology is essentially without          largely with genetic transfer to wild       suggests this is likely to be the case if

 the demand for agricultural products                     fer of genes from exotic conifer to in-      serious problem if it results in the al-
 is elastic (e.g., Angelsen and Kaimowitz                 digenous conifer trees is precluded.         tering of the comparative competitive
 1998).17 However, this is unlikely to be                 Where the species is indigenous, an          position in dealing with the pests of
 a problem in forestry where demand is                    approach may be the introduction of          various types similar natural vegetation.
 almost always estimated to be inelastic                  sterility as a vehicle for preventing the    Ultimately, the seriousness of this prob-
 and productivity of planted forests con-                 release of genes that might transfer to      lem depends importantly on the prob-
 siderably greater than that of natural                   the natural environment. Note that the       ability of the transfer of a survival gene
 forests.                                                 major reason for introducing a steril-       into the wild, on the scale of the trans-
       In some ways the biotech issues in                 ity gene into trees is not, as in agricul-   fer, and on the comparative change in
 forestry appear to be modest compared                    ture, to retain control over future seed     the competitive balance within the
 with those in food. Since wood prod-                     sources, but rather to prevent the es-       natural habitat. This becomes an argu-
 ucts are not ingested they are unlikely                  cape of genes into the natural environ-      ment for the introduction of controlled
 to have any direct human health or                       ment through the tree-flowering pro-         exotics.
 safety effects, either in the short- or                  cess.
 long run. The ownership issue associ-                          Finally, if modified genes do es-
 ated with the use of seeds from                          cape, how serious are the “expected”         SOME IMPLICATIONS
 transgenic plants to create subsequent                   consequences or the “worst case” con-
 crops is likely to be less important as                  sequences? In the case of the herbicide-
                                                                                                       OF BIOTECHNOLOGY
 well, due to the long periods required                   tolerant gene, the consequences of re-       FOR FORESTRY:
 for flowering in trees.                                  lease into the wild are probably small.
       A more pressing concern, however,                  Herbicides are unlikely to be applied        WEIGHTING BENEFITS
 relates to the potential for genetic                     to most of the natural environment. If       AND COSTS
 transfer from the transgenic tree to the                 herbicides are to be applied, types can
 surrounding natural environment.18 As                    be used to which the escaped genes do              The benefits of applying biotech-
 noted, this is not a problem in cases                    not confer tolerance. In the interme-        nology to forestry are potentially huge.
 where the tree is an exotic and there-                   diate and longer term, the herbicide in      The estimates above suggests that the
 fore no similar species of trees are                     question will almost surely be replaced      introduction of only one type of bio-
 found in the natural environment, e.g.,                  periodically in the normal course of         technological innovation, a herbicide-
 since conifer species are not indigenous                 product change and development.              resistant gene, could generate benefits
 to South America, the accidental trans-                  Thus, the presence of that modified          estimated at up to $1 billion annually
                                                          gene in the natural environment ap-          in reduced forest plantation establish-
    It has been noted that since cattle are
                                                          pears unlikely to constitute any serious     ment costs and an expansion in the rate
 increasingly being placed in feedlots where they         short- or long-term environmental            of plantation establishment by up to
 consume grains, the total demand for grain,              problem. Similarly for genes that affect     225,000 additional ha per year. The
 human and animal, may be elastic. This implies
                                                          tree form or fiber characteristics, the      increased production would not only
 that if grain prices fall, e.g., due to biotechnology,
 the total area of land in grains could increase.
                                                          release of this gene into the natural        generate increased social welfare
 However, it should be noted that where both              environment is unlikely to provide a         through lower commodity prices, but
 grain and cattle are part of society’s diet, the         competitive advantage in survival and
 feeding of grain to cattle has resulted in a decline
                                                                                                       would also generate environmental
                                                          therefore unlikely to have significant or    benefits in the form of decreased har-
 in pasture area. Thus, total agricultural land,
 grain plus pasture, may have decreased even if the       adverse consequences.                        vesting pressure on natural forests.
 area in grains increased.                                      However, this situation could                Furthermore, it is well docu-
                                                          change if a survival gene is involved.       mented that there has been a gradual
    See Mullin and Bertrand (1998) for a detailed         For example, the release of a Bt gene
 discussion of many of these issues in a Canadian                                                      worldwide shift in industrial wood pro-
                                                          into the wild could constitute a more        duction from natural forests to plan-

                                                                                           AAEA International Conference,
tations. Such a trend could have advan-
tageous effects on native forests and
                                            SUMMARY AND                                    Agricultural Intensification, Eco-
biodiversity in that as harvest pressures   CONCLUSIONS                                    nomic Development and Environ-
                                                                                           ment, Salt Lake City, Utah, 31
are relieved and native forests can be                                                     July–5 August, 1998.
devoted to other purposes, including              The benefits of biotechnology in
                                            forestry, both economic and ecological,    Bailey, R. 1997. American Chestnut
conservation. The more productive are
                                                                                            Foundation. Center for Private Con-
forest plantations, the more they can       are potentially enormous. The wide-
                                                                                            servation. CEI, Washington, DC.
deflect harvesting pressures away from      spread use of a herbicide-resistant gene
                                            in forestry could result in a savings of   Bradshaw, T. 1999. A Blueprint for For-
natural forests.
                                                                                           est Tree Domestication. College of
      Additionally, biotechnology ap-       up to $1 billion annually. However, the
                                                                                           Forest Resources, University of
plied to trees offers an additional tool    benefits must be compared with the             Washington, Seattle, WA. Down-
in dealing with specific environmental      costs. Recently, biotechnology in agri-        loaded        from        http://
problems, including land and water          culture has come under attack for its
protection, as well as presenting the       potential health, safety, and environ-         treedom.htm. July 2001.
potential to deal more effectively with     mental risks. The application of bio-      Context Consulting. N.D. West Des
global warming and atmospheric car-         technology to forestry, however, poses        Moines, IA 50266.
bon mitigation.                             somewhat different considerations than     DiFazio, SP, S Leonardi, S Cheng, and
      The costs of biotechnology in for-    biotechnology’s applications elsewhere.        SH Strauss. 1999. Assessing Poten-
estry are much more problematic. In         For example, direct health and safety          tial Risks of Transgenic Escape
many cases the potential costs of the       risks appear nonexistent or negligible.        from Fiber Plantations. Gene Flow
                                            The environmental risks that exist ap-         and Agriculture: Relevance for
introduction of biotechnology in for-
                                                                                           Transgenic Crops 72:171–176.
estry appear to be negligible or mod-       pear to relate largely to the potential
est at best. Herbicide resistance and       for altered genes to move out of           FAO. 1996. Long-term Trends and Pros-
                                            transgenic trees into the natural envi-       pects in the Supply and Demand for
form and fiber modification appear to
                                                                                          Timber and Implications for Sus-
offer minimal potential damages. The        ronment. The damages associated with
                                                                                          tainable Forest, by David Brooks,
greatest concern is probably related to     the escape of many types of these ac-         Heikki Pajulja, Tim Peck, Birger
the escape of modified genes into the       tivities are negligible and probably can      Solberg, and Philip Wardle. FAO,
natural environment. The costs associ-      be reduced substantially by the delay         Rome.
ated with this are unclear, but in many     or elimination of flowering and/or by      Hayami, Y, and VW Ruttan. 1985. Ag-
cases would be negligible. Furthermore,     introducing the species into foreign          ricultural Development: An Interna-
most could probably be reduced sub-         environments where similar species are        tional Perspective. Johns Hopkins
stantially by the delay or elimination      not found in the wild and gene trans-         Press, Baltimore. See p. 115.
of flowering and/or by introducing the      fer is highly improbable. Where the        Hu, W-J, SA Harding, J L, JL Popko, J
species into foreign environments           risks cannot be adequately mitigated,          Ralph, DD Stokke, CJ Tsai, and
where similar species are not found in      certain selected types of biotechnologi-       VL Chiang. 1999. Repression of
                                            cal activities could be precluded.             Lignin Biosyntheses Promotes Cel-
the wild and gene transfer is highly
                                                                                           lulose Accumulation and Growth
improbable.                                                                                in Transgenic Trees. Natural Bio-
      Finally, biotechnology in forestry                                                   technology 17(August): 808–812.
takes many forms. Even if certain           REFERENCES                                 IPCC. 2001. Technical and Economic
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Proceedings of the First International Symposium on
Ecological and Societal Aspects of Transgenic Plantations,
S.H. Strauss and H.D. Bradshaw, eds. College of Forestry,
Oregon State University, 2001. pp. 47-56.

Restoring the Forests*
David G. Victor
Jesse H. Ausubel
                                                                  The 20th century witnessed the start of a “Great Restoration” of the world’s forests.
                                                             Efficient farmers and foresters are learning to spare forestland by growing more food and
                                                             fiber in ever-smaller areas. Meanwhile, increased use of metals, plastics, and electricity has
                                                             eased the need for timber. And recycling has cut the amount of virgin wood pulped into
                                                             paper. Although the size and wealth of the human population has shot up, the area of
                                                             farm and forestland that must be dedicated to feed, heat, and house this population is
                                                             shrinking. Slowly, trees can return to the liberated land. We develop a plausible and at-
                                                             tractive scenario for how far this “great restoration” can proceed by 2050—if farmers lift
                                                             yields at about 2% per year and thus grow ever more food on smaller areas of land, and if
                                                             foresters continue the shift to high yield plantation forests, which reduces the wooded
                                                             area that must be devoted to timber supply. The average timber yield needed to achieve
 David G. Victor is Robert                                   our “great restoration” scenario is about 5 cubic meters per hectare per year. That can be
                                                             attained without genetically modified (GM) trees, but insofar as GM trees allow for even
 W. Johnson, Jr., Senior
                                                             higher yields, they make it feasible to shrink even further the area of production forests.
 Fellow for Science and                                      Hectares freed from timbering can be available for other purposes such as protection of
                                                             biological diversity, watershed protection and nature’s intrinsic beauty.
 Technology at the Council
 on Foreign Relations.
                                                             SKINHEAD EARTH?

                                                                     ight thousand years ago, when humans played only bit parts in the world
 Jesse H. Ausubel is Direc-                                           ecosystem, trees covered two-fifths of the land. Since then, humans have
 tor of the Program for the                                           grown in number while thinning and shaving the forests to cook, keep
                                                             warm, grow crops, plank ships, frame houses, and make paper. Fires, saws, and
 Human Environment at                                        axes have cleared about half of the original forestland, and some analysts warn
 Rockefeller University,                                     that within decades, the remaining natural forests will disappear altogether.
                                                                  But forests matter. A good deal of the planet’s biological diversity lives in
 New York.                                                   forests (mostly in the tropics), and this diversity diminishes as trees fall. Healthy
                                                             forests protect watersheds and generate clean drinking water; they remove car-
                                                             bon dioxide (a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere) from the air
                                                             and thus help maintain the climate. Forests count—not just for their ecological
 This essay is based on the
                                                             and industrial services but also for the sake of order and beauty.
 findings of a Council on                                         Fortunately, the 20 century witnessed the start of a “Great Restoration” of
                                                             the world’s forests. Efficient farmers and foresters are learning to spare forestland
 Foreign Relations study                                     by growing more food and fiber in ever-smaller areas. Meanwhile, increased use
 group. For more informa-                                    of metals, plastics, and electricity has eased the need for timber. And recycling
                                                             has cut the amount of virgin wood pulped into paper. Although the size and
 tion on the studies under-                                  wealth of the human population has shot up, the area of farm and forestland
 lying this article see
                                                             * This paper was first published in Foreign Affairs (November/December 2000, vol. 79, Number 6, pp.
                                                             127–144) and is reprinted with permission. More information on Foreign Affairs is available at

 that must be dedicated to feed, heat,       New studies in tropical western Africa        ests”—have not vanished. Earth’s trees
 and house this population is shrinking.     reveal that deforestation in that region      therefore need a comprehensive and
 Slowly, trees can return to the liberated   is only one-third the rate previously         durable solution: to expand and accel-
 land.                                       believed, and in some areas forests are       erate the Great Restoration worldwide.
       In the United States, this Great      rebounding. Brazil, for its part, is of-      Agriculture and logging—the two
 Restoration began with a big stick.         ten in the forest press. Farmers’ fires,      main threats to natural forests—must
 Horrified that farmers and loggers were     cattle ranching, and timber cutting           continue their transformation into
 stripping America of its trees five times   denude the Brazilian Amazon by per-           modern, ultra-efficient industries.
 faster than they were growing, and          haps half a percent each year, and the              The seedlings and saplings of this
 worried about the economic conse-           government seems powerless to stop it.        transformation have already been
 quences of a “timber famine,” President     By some estimates, four-fifths of             planted. But the progress and poten-
 Theodore Roosevelt created the federal      Brazil’s local wood consumption is il-        tial of modern agriculture and forestry
 Forest Service and pushed landowners        legally felled. Yet at the same time, Bra-    remain little known to many
 to start sustaining timber resources.       zil has become a powerhouse in forest         policymakers, and requisite techniques
 Since about 1950, U.S. forest cover has     planting. Established on already de-          are reviled by others who prefer “natu-
 increased—despite the country’s emer-       graded and abandoned land, eucalyp-           ral,” low-intensity production. And in
 gence as the world’s bread and wood         tus and pine stands in Brazil supply a        much of the world, the conditions nec-
 basket. Geographers have observed a         rising fraction of the world’s lumber         essary for these new methods, such as
 transition from deforestation to refor-     and paper and relieve the pressure on         affordable commercial energy and ef-
 estation in countries as distant as         natural forests.                              fective land-use regulation, remain elu-
 France and New Zealand, where new                Yet still the world’s forest estate      sive.
 production methods have spared for-         dwindles. Even in countries where                   The chart illustrates the immense
 ests and regulation has locked the gains    woody areas are expanding, threats to         areas at stake. Two paths now stand
 in place. Studies by forest experts in      the remaining uninterrupted original          open. Along one, leading to the
 Finland reveal that by the 1980s,           tracts of trees—what the World Re-            “Skinhead Earth” scenario, quaint and
 wooded areas were increasing in all         sources Institute calls “frontier for-
 major temperate and boreal forests.
 These mid- and high-latitude forests
 account for half the world’s total and
 span some 60 countries. Such forests
 today are also healthier: the biomass (or
 total amount of living matter) per hect-
 are (100 meters square, or about 2.5
 acres) has increased even more rapidly
 than the size of the forests themselves.
       But the Great Restoration is far
 from complete. Despite major gains in
 some areas, the world’s sylvan balance
 sheet still bleeds trees, owing to wide-
 spread deforestation in the tropics. Yet
 even there, progress has begun to peek
 through. Preliminary satellite data sug-    Figure 1. Sources (rounded estimates): 6000 B.C., World Conservation Monitoring Centre,
 gest that the rate of tropical deforesta-   World Resources Institute, and World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development;
                                             1990s, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Global Fibre Supply Model data; 2050,
 tion has slowed 10% in the last decade.     authors’ projections.

inefficient agriculture and forestry will    than 2% around 1970. Still, by 2050,         ply to nearly double, while cropland
persevere. By 2050, forests will dwindle     the total population will have in-           expanded less than 10%. In India, ris-
by 200 million hectares—about five           creased, perhaps to as much as 8 or 10       ing yields almost entirely offset increas-
times the area of California—and lum-        billion. Taming population growth fur-       ing demand for cropland, so the area
berjacks will regularly shave about 40%      ther will likely lessen the threat to for-   under cultivation barely changed.
of forests. Along the other, however,        ests, but protecting the forests seems            The conventional wisdom, the
farmers and foresters will intensify pro-    only a marginal addition to the impe-        “Skinhead Earth” scenario, holds that
duction and shrink their footprint.          tus for population reduction.                as much as 200 million hectares of for-
Forests will spread anew to more than              Rising income, meanwhile, has          est will be lost in the next decades as
200 million hectares, and only 12% of        raised the population’s demand for           agriculture extends to feed larger and
forestlands will hear cries of “timber.”     food, multiplying the effect of its grow-    richer populations. Current trends,
This vision for a Great Restoration is       ing numbers. The rich eat more than          however, suggest not balding but re-
realistic—one that the right domestic        do the poor. But the main effect of in-      growth. If farmers sustain the 1.8%
and foreign policies can secure. The         come growth has been to add meat to          annual yield improvement they have
focus is on the year 2050. That may          many diets. And in terms of land used,       achieved in recent decades, they could
seem distant, but trees grow slowly, and     eating animals that eat plants is less ef-   meet the growing demand for primary
capital-intensive logging firms adjust       ficient than eating plants directly. As a    calories while releasing 200 million
their practices gradually. In one de-        rule of thumb, a vegetarian diet re-         hectares of cropland.
cade—the time frame for most foreign         quires about 3,000 primary calories               But farmers can do even better
policies—little change can appear. But       daily. Meat-eaters consume twice that        than that and offer even more land to
five decades’ work, with steady guid-        amount. Vegetarian diets could there-        the trees. The authors’ research with
ance, will make the restoration of the       fore markedly reduce the land required       Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut
forests truly great.                         to grow food. But secretaries of state       Agriculture Experiment Station has
                                             are unlikely to convince carnivores to       shown that, with some extra effort, an
                                             switch from T-bones to tofu.                 increase in yield of 2% per year—a
SMART FOOD                                         Given the difficulty in changing       plausible goal—could spare a total of
                                             population and diet, the best way to         400 million hectares. In other words,
     Many different forces, including        reduce food’s impact on forests will be      today’s farmland could be cut by more
urban sprawl, pollution, and fire, can       to change the fourth factor: how farm-       than a quarter through smarter agricul-
diminish forests. But around the world,      ers grow crops. Yield—the amount of          tural techniques. Sustaining a 2% rate
agriculture and timber cutting do            crops produced per hectare of land—          of increase will not be easy, but history
much of the clearing. Farmers are usu-       is the key indicator. Over the last quar-    and technology suggest it can be done.
ally cited as forests’ primary foes. As      ter-century, average yields of cereal        Since sustained efforts to raise U.S.
Time’s millennial Earth Day issue la-        grains, including maize, rice, and           yields began in the 1940s, average
mented, “agriculture is the world’s big-     wheat, rose 1.8% each year worldwide.        yields for wheat and soybeans have al-
gest cause of deforestation.”                Some countries achieved dismal re-           most tripled and corn yields have more
     Just how much land is actually          sults—yields rose only 0.8% per year         than quadrupled. And farmers have
needed for agriculture integrates several    in developing Africa and actually de-        hardly tapped the full potential. Cham-
variables: the size of the population, its   clined in Angola, Malawi, and Zimba-         pion American corn growers have lifted
income and diet, and the yield of crops      bwe. Other countries, big ones, out-         yields well above 20 tons per hectare
grown. Already, growth in human              paced the pack. Yields rose an average       without irrigation. Meanwhile, average
numbers is slowing—the present popu-         of 2.5% annually in Indonesia and            U.S. corn yields stand at only 8 tons
lation growth rate of 1.3% per year has      more than 3% yearly in China. These          per hectare, and average world corn
declined steadily from a peak of more        gains allowed the worldwide food sup-        yields are a meager 4 tons.

       How many of the hundreds of            expand, not shrink, their incomes.          States, for example, leftovers from lum-
 millions of hectares that farmers can              That leaves “diet” and yields. The    ber mills account for more than a third
 spare will revert to trees? The amount       wood “diet” required to nourish an          of the wood chips that are turned into
 depends on where cropland is aban-           economy is determined by the tastes and     pulp and paper; what is still left after
 doned and how people choose to use           actions of consumers and by the effi-       that is burned for power. And further
 it. One and a half centuries ago, farm-      ciency with which millers transform vir-    improvements in management and
 ers had deforested two-thirds of Con-        gin wood into useful products. Chang-       technology will squeeze even higher
 necticut. Once they abandoned their          ing tastes and technological advances are   value out of products and spare more
 farms to build guns and aircraft engines     already lightening pressure on forests.     virgin wood. In British Columbia,
 and sell insurance, however, the forests     Concrete, steel, and plastics have re-      since the mid 1980s, sawmills have
 gradually recovered the landscape. But       placed much of the wood once used in        lifted the lumber obtained per cubic
 free land does not always become for-        railroad ties, house walls, and flooring.   meter of log at an average rate of 1.2%
 est. In South Dakota, abandoned farms        Genes, silicon, and even ceramics—not       per year. Worldwide, the pulp and pa-
 become grass prairies, not woodlands.        boards—are the growth materials for the     per industry is shifting a significant
 Worldwide, no sure equation links the        new economy. Demand for lumber has          share of production from chemical to
 liberation of cropland to the return of      become sluggish, and in the last decade,    mechanical pulping, which cuts the
 trees. Guessing moderately, however,         with the implosion of the wood-inten-       wood required for a ton of useful pulp
 about half the land freed might even-        sive Russian economy, world consump-        by half. And recycling has helped close
 tually revert to forest—say, 200 million     tion of boards and plywood has actually     leaks in the paper cycle. In 1970, con-
 hectares, or three times the size of Texas   declined.                                   sumers recycled less than one-fifth of
 and four times the size of Spain.                  But the appetite for “pulp-           their paper; today, the world average is
                                              wood”—logs that are chipped, softened       double that.
                                              into pulp, and then drawn into sheets             New engineering has also helped
 FAST FORESTS                                 of paper and board—is still climbing,       decouple demand for virgin wood from
                                              driven by the 5% annual rise in pulp        the swelling population and economy.
      Farmers may no longer pose much         consumption in developing countries.        For example, floor systems built from
 threat to forests. But what about lum-       Pulpwood accounts for more than a           engineered wooden I-beams use about
 berjacks? As with food, the area of land     quarter of industrial wood consump-         one-quarter less fiber than traditional
 needed for wood is a multiple of popu-       tion. Paperwork proliferates in devel-      construction with solid rectangular
 lation, income, “diet,” and yield. The       oping countries, and inside the glass       ribs. And as a substitute for plywood,
 appropriate focus is on industrial           and steel shells of the new economy,        millers make oriented strand board
 wood—logs cut for lumber, plywood,           information machines still consume          (OSB) by gluing wood flakes in per-
 and pulp for paper. Although trees are       paper voraciously. Reliable electronic      pendicular layers. OSB can be manu-
 also cut for fuel, most fuel wood is         archives and electronic books will even-    factured from small trees, and it con-
 thinned from hedgerows, shrubs, and          tually quiet the taste for paper. So far,   sumes the whole tree, except for bark
 other open sources—not forests.              however, life still requires hard copy.     and limbs. By contrast, plywood
      Again, of the relevant factors,               Meanwhile, more efficient lumber      mills—which peel timber into sheets
 strategies to save the forests should not    and paper milling is already carving        and glue them together like cream
 emphasize limiting population and in-        more value from the trees we cut. Be-       cookies—work only with larger trees
 come. Those government agencies and          cause waste is costly, the best mills—      and leave an unpeeled core at the cen-
 nongovernmental organizations                operating under tight environmental         ter of every log.
 (NGOS) most concerned with forests           regulations and the gaze of demanding             As this suggests, the wood prod-
 have little leverage over the number of      shareholders—already make use of            ucts industry has learned to increase its
 people, and societies should aim to          nearly the entire log. In the United        revenue while moderating its consump-

tion of trees. This is not surprising, for    moved on, returning only if trees re-       ply from “old-growth” forests—mature
efforts to lower trade barriers and im-       generated on their own. Most of the         natural forests dominated by large, old
prove management of forest resources          world’s forests still deliver wood this     trees—is tightening while the relative
are increasingly exposing millers world-      way, with an average annual yield of        costs of trees from plantations are fall-
wide to prices, competition, and con-         perhaps two cubic meters of wood per        ing. In Oregon, for example, public
sumer requirements that are spreading         hectare. If yield remains at that rate,     pressure and laws to protect endan-
innovation and efficiency more widely.        as illustrated, by 2050 lumberjacks will    gered species have reduced felling on
Large, capital-intensive pulp and paper       regularly saw nearly half the world’s       federal lands by four-fifths since the
mills are already responding—their in-        forests. That is a dismal vision—a          mid-1980s. Offsetting that shrinking
vestors demand it. But in much of the         chainsaw every other hectare.               supply is rising production on private
world, sawmills thrive on remoteness,               Lifting yields, however, will spare   land in the southern United States—
trade barriers, and artificially cheap logs   more forests. Raising average yields 2%     where sunlight, moisture, and good
that shield them from competition. By         per year would lift growth over 5 cu-       soils for forests abound. Today, the
one estimate, 3,000 sawmills in Argen-        bic meters per hectare by 2050 and          American South—which Bruce Zobel
tina function with an average input of        shrink production forests to just about     of North Carolina State University
only 1,000 cubic meters of wood per           12% of all woodlands—the Great Res-         called the “wood basket of the
year. At such small scales—less than          toration.                                   world”—supplies 15% of the world’s
one-hundredth the size of the most                  Industry has already taken big        industrial timber, at a sustainable av-
modern sawmills—millers can hardly            steps along the restoration path by sow-    erage yield of about 5 cubic meters per
implement the most efficient practices.       ing intensively managed “plantation”        hectare.
      Demand for industrial wood, now         forests that act as wood farms. Accord-          Outside the United States, dimin-
about 1.5 billion cubic meters per year,      ing to the U.N. Food and Agriculture        ished access to traditional sources of
has risen only 1% annually since 1960         Organization (FAO), one-quarter of          virgin wood and the need to control
while the world economy has multiplied        industrial wood already comes from          wood costs are also concentrating pro-
at nearly four times that rate. Conven-       such farms, and the share is poised to      duction. In British Columbia, where
tional wisdom predicts that the total         soar once recently planted forests ma-      most forests are old growth, regulators
amount of wood harvested will reach 2.5       ture. At likely planting rates, at least    have reduced the allowable cut by
billion cubic meters in 2050. But the         one billion cubic meters of wood—half       nearly a third over the last two decades,
figure could be much lower if millers         the world’s supply—could come from          and more restrictions are likely. Clark
improve their efficiency, manufacturers       plantations by the year 2050. Semi-         Binkley, former dean of the University
deliver higher value through the better       natural forests—for example, those that     of British Columbia’s School of For-
engineering of wood products, and con-        regenerate naturally but are thinned for    estry, has argued that the province’s
sumers recycle and replace more. To-          higher yield—could supply most of the       logging can remain competitive only by
gether, these steps could shrink demand       rest. Small-scale traditional “commu-       shrinking its footprint and raising
to about 2 billion cubic meters per year      nity forestry” could also deliver a small   yields to twice or three times the cur-
and thus reduce the area of forests cut       fraction of industrial wood. Such ar-       rent average annual yield of 2.2 cubic
for lumber and paper.                         rangements, in which forest dwellers,       meters per hectare. In Brazil last year,
      As with agriculture, yield—cubic        often indigenous peoples, earn revenue      the government and a coalition of 189
meters of wood grown per hectare of           from commercial timber, can provide         environmental groups scuttled a plan
forest each year—provides the largest         essential protection to woodlands and       to open half the Amazon forest for
leverage for change. Historically, for-       their inhabitants.                          potential clearing. Meanwhile, nearly
estry has been a classic primary indus-             Changes in both markets and           all new Brazilian industrial wood
try; like fishers and hunters, foresters      regulation explain the shift toward         comes from high-yielding plantations
have exhausted local resources and then       high-yield, land-sparing forestry. Sup-     in the country’s southeast, outside the

 Amazon region. China has reduced           plentiful rainfall, hybrid poplars deliver   Internet. Three-quarters of South
 cutting of natural forests by a fifth      50 cubic meters per hectare. And un-         American plantations were planted af-
 since 1995. Malaysia and Indonesia,        der extreme conditions—with irriga-          ter countries adopted incentive
 dominant exporters of tropical old-        tion, fertilization, and intensive pest      schemes, usually subsidies. Yet today,
 growth logs, have both announced re-       controls—eucalyptus has been clocked         the private establishment of new plan-
 ductions that could halve felling in       at 100 cubic meters per hectare (or 20       tations is continuing despite the fact
 their ancient forests by 2010. New         times the goal of 5 cubic meters by          that governments are scaling back in-
 plantations in those countries will not    2050).                                       centive programs.
 mature in time to fill the gap, but              Foresters can push trees even               Another source of concern has
 planted forests in New Zealand, Chile,     faster. Today, the most advanced tree-       been the profitability of private invest-
 and elsewhere stand ready to deliver.      breeding programs are only in their          ment in these industries. A recent
 Chile alone will earn $3 billion in for-   second, third, or fourth generations,        PricewaterhouseCoopers study found
 eign exchange this year from forest        since trees, unlike annual wheat and         that the 50 largest global forestry com-
 products, nearly all grown on planta-      maize, are slow to reach sexual matu-        panies earned, on average, a paltry
 tions that cover only 3% of Chilean        rity. Modern biology can already speed       4.1% return on capital investments.
 territory. Trade is rationalizing world    breeding, however, by spotting the           Over-capacity in the industry and vast
 wood production toward the highest—        genes for superior performance early         potential supplies of wood from poorly
 and most land-sparing—yields.              and then growing plants with those           regulated forests have undercut prices
       With economics already favoring      traits through traditional methods.          and hurt the performance of even the
 intensive production, foresters should     Genetic engineering, now in its in-          best-run firms. A history of poor re-
 be able to lift the average world yield    fancy, will be able to insert or delete      turns makes it hard for the forest in-
 in lumbered forests to 5 cubic meters      selected genes directly and should           dustry to raise still more money to con-
 per hectare by 2050. A recent study        gradually gain acceptance. Big tree          tinue the shift to high-yield wood pro-
 compiled by Wood Resources Interna-        planters—such as Westvaco Corpora-           duction. The current consolidation of
 tional, the World Bank, and the World      tion—are already placing large bets on       the timber industry, however, will help
 Wildlife Fund (WWF) suggests that          biotechnology, which promises to             surviving firms win new investors.
 more than a fifth of the world’s virgin    boost the economic advantage of plan-        Government efforts to improvement
 wood is already produced from forests      tation forestry. Having spent heavily on     management and restrict cutting of
 with yields above 7 cubic meters per       state-of-the-art mills and to select and     natural forests will also favor modern
 hectare. And foresters have only begun     rejigger tree genes, the forest industry     industry, which has a smaller footprint.
 to tap the potential for high growth.      has come to prefer planted forests,               Environmentalists nevertheless
 Roger Sedjo at Resources for the Fu-       which let it control what stock grows        worry that industrial plantations will
 ture has documented that economically      where.                                       deplete nutrients and water in the soil
 competitive plantations in Brazil,               Economists, environmentalists,         and produce a vulnerable monoculture
 Chile, and New Zealand can sustain         and people who live in the woods have        of trees where a rich diversity of spe-
 yearly growth of more than 20 cubic        all raised warning flags about intensive     cies should prevail. Meanwhile, advo-
 meters per hectare with pine trees.        industrial forestry. Some worry that         cates for indigenous peoples, who have
 Aracruz Cellulose, Brazil’s top planter    plantation forestry is prone to fail be-     witnessed the harm caused by crude
 of eucalyptus—a hardwood good for          cause much of it depends on wasteful         industrial logging of natural forests,
 some papers—has invested heavily in        government subsidies. Indeed, public         warn that plantations will dislocate for-
 forestry research that now delivers an     funds have helped establish viable land-     est dwellers and upset local economies.
 extraordinary average of 43 cubic          sparing plantations—just as they             Pressure from these groups helps ex-
 meters per hectare. In the Pacific         helped initiate other new waves of in-       plain why the best practices in planta-
 Northwest and British Columbia, with       dustry, including jet travel and the         tion forestry now stress the protection

of environmental quality and human           growing wood farms. Together, these          of commas and clauses. Worse, since
rights—and why large firms, with the         measures can increase to 3 billion hect-     Rio, the central debate has been
most exposure to pressure, are gener-        ares the area of forests that are left for   whether and how to negotiate a legally
ally the most scrupulous. In Sweden,         nature, the protection of watersheds         binding forest treaty. Experience in
for example, large industrial forest         and indigenous peoples, and other            managing other international environ-
owners aim to follow strict codes of         non-industrial uses. In contrast, the        mental problems shows that binding
conduct that respect the traditional         “Skinhead Earth” scenario will shrink        treaties work best when they include
practices of indigenous peoples,             these non-industrial forests to 1.8 bil-     detailed commitments with which gov-
whereas smaller landowners still tend        lion hectares. This difference—1.2 bil-      ernments can comply. A binding in-
to fence the reindeer-herding Saami          lion hectares—is almost twice the area       strument is ill suited to forests, how-
people out of their traditional grazing      of the Amazon Basin. One central             ever, because governments—and the
grounds.                                     question remains, however: How can           people they represent—do not yet
      As with most innovations, achiev-      foreign policy help farmers, foresters,      share a vision for how to protect the
ing the promise of high-yield forestry       millers, and consumers do their part?        world’s woodlands. Moreover, detailed
will require feedback from a watchful             Much useful activity is already         actions would necessarily vary by coun-
public. Public scrutiny will help indus-     under way. Environmental NGOs                try and be extremely difficult to codify
try to make the new technologies so-         around the globe have organized be-          into a single international law. Key el-
cially acceptable. The main benefit of       hind forest protection. All major for-       ements of a sensible coherent vision—
the new approach to forests will not         estry firms now participate in various       such as lifting grain and forest yields—
reside within the planted woods, how-        activities to lessen the environmental       are impossible to plan top-down by
ever. It will lie elsewhere: in the trees    harms of forestry. Multilateral develop-     regulatory treaty.
spared by more efficient forestry. An        ment funders such as the World Bank                A better approach would begin by
industry that draws from planted for-        have added the protection of forests         adopting a nonbinding but clear, quan-
ests rather than cutting from the wild       and their role in alleviating human          titative, measurable goal: namely, a for-
will disturb only one-fifth or less of the   poverty to their agendas. The United         est estate expanded by 200 million
area for the same volume of wood. In-        Nations engages forestry issues through      hectares in 2050 and in which a smart,
stead of logging half the world’s forests,   the FAO and the ongoing effort to            sustainable forestry industry concen-
humanity can leave almost 90% of             implement commitments made at the            trates on little more than 10% of the
them minimally disturbed. And nearly         1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro          forested area. This “90:10” vision
all new tree plantations are established     (at which forestry policies were hotly       would serve to anchor and focus a bot-
on abandoned croplands, which are            contested). Since Rio, an alphabet soup      tom-up process through which govern-
already abundant and accessible.             of panels, forums, and task forces on        ments and stakeholders—individually
                                             forests have filled U.N. meeting rooms.      and collectively—would explore the
                                             This year, the U.N. launched an an-          actions they must take to achieve their
FOREST-FRIENDLY                              nual Forum on Forests to provide an          goal by 2050. Responses could then
                                             outlet for the many clamoring voices.        vary as necessary. Some countries, such
FOREIGN POLICY                               Forests do not suffer from a lack of         as Brazil and Indonesia, could conclude
                                             attention in international politics.         that the best way they can contribute
      Actors in the wood drama can                The problem is the absence of a         trees to the world balance sheet is by
thus take three basic approaches to pre-     clear and widely shared goal to guide        improving the regulation of their pub-
serving and restoring the world’s for-       policy. Because the U.N. framework           lic lands. Others, such as Chile and
ests: lifting crop yields, choosing value    includes all nations, forest agendas are     New Zealand, could do their part by
over volume in making wood products,         confused and exceedingly complex, and        striving to become industrial wood
and concentrating forestry in fast-          progress is measured by the placement        baskets. Still others, such as Russia,

 could focus on improving forest insti-     eas, is fitfully reported in many places.    the United States) to large old-growth
 tutions. Sten Nilsson of the Interna-      All but a few countries lack data and        harvesters (Indonesia and Russia). They
 tional Institute for Applied Systems       analysis of milling efficiency. Private      include major exporters (Canada and
 Analysis has shown that Russia has         groups, especially commercial firms,         Malaysia), the world’s largest importer
 great potential to spare trees by expos-   could fill the gaps. But so far they have    of forest products (Japan), and a vari-
 ing the forest sector to modern mar-       had little incentive to do so because no     ety of consumer needs and preferences.
 ket discipline and regulation.             guiding forest vision has informed and       The list encompasses forest hegemons
       A bottom-up process is needed        focused the policy debate.                   of every region, and the behavior of
 because no single set of policy instru-          In other examples of international     governments, firms, and NGOs in
 ments is appropriate to all settings.      environmental cooperation—such as            these nations sets world standards in
 Factors such as land ownership vary        cleaning up the North Sea or combat-         forestry.
 widely. In the United States and most      ing acid rain in Europe—clear, ambi-               The Forest 14 do not correspond
 of western Europe, for example, forests    tious, and achievable visions backed by      to any existing and effective interna-
 are held mainly in private hands. The      data systems have proven to be key to        tional institution, so one question will
 United States alone has ten million        success. In those cases, as in forestry      be how to convene them. The Group
 forest owners. Most U.S. industrial        today, governments were at first uncer-      of 8 (G-8) might act as a catalyst. It
 wood comes from private land, and          tain what they could achieve but were        includes 4 of the Forest 14 (Canada,
 ownership fragments when inheritance       keen to make an effort. Nonbinding           Japan, Russia, and the United States),
 splits wood tracts among offspring. In     legal frameworks, along with periodic        and its other members (France, Ger-
 this setting, improving environmental      performance reviews, facilitated action      many, Italy, and the United Kingdom)
 standards in wood production has re-       and learning. Only when governments          feel strong public pressure to protect
 quired certification schemes that are      had come to understand what commit-          forests. Already, the organization has
 compatible with private land owner-        ments they could realistically imple-        focused on forest topics such as illegal
 ship. Programs such as the voluntary       ment did they establish binding trea-        logging and counterproductive subsi-
 “Tree Farm” system of standards have       ties to lock in progress.                    dies. Moreover, the G-8 is the only
 succeeded in engaging owners of small                                                   high-profile international forum—
 forest parcels who are wary of costly                                                   other than the more inclusive Interna-
 production standards that only large       THE FOREST 14                                tional Monetary Fund (IMF), World
 landowners can afford. By contrast, in                                                  Bank, and U.N.—that engages Russia,
 Canada and many developing coun-                 An effective diplomatic strategy       the world’s most forested nation, on
 tries, governments own forests and use     for restoring forests will require adjust-   topics important to Moscow. And the
 concessions to control cutting. In such    ing conventional wisdom and updat-           G-8 also has experience engaging de-
 settings, policies should focus on set-    ing existing institutions. Leadership by     veloping countries—as became evident
 ting the right standards for granting      a set of key countries could substan-        last year with the creation of the larger
 concessions and on the firms that do       tially ease the task: Australia, Brazil,     G-20 to discuss key global financial
 the cutting.                               Canada, China, Finland, India, Indo-         and economic issues. The G-8 does not
       Measuring progress will require a    nesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand,         have the built-in means to analyze for-
 better system for tracking and assess-     Russia, South Africa, Sweden, and the        est issues, but the Forest 14 could en-
 ment. Data on forest cover already         United States. These “Forest 14” con-        list its members and other partners
 abound, but reliability varies by coun-    trol two-thirds of the world’s wood-         such as the World Bank-WWF Forest
 try, as do definitions of terms as fun-    lands and span diverse forest types and      Alliance to sponsor studies in their ar-
 damental as “forest.” Information on       management strategies, from intense          eas of comparative advantage—a prac-
 key elements, such as changes in crop      plantations (New Zealand and South           tice used effectively for other kinds of
 and timber yields and production ar-       Africa) to mixed use (China, India, and      international environmental coopera-

tion. Topics would include lifting grain      frontier forest is still protected by eco-    is produced “sustainably.” So far, only
yields, setting goals and requirements        nomic factors—remote locations and            a tiny fraction of production forests
for high-yield forest plantations, craft-     unfavorable terrain keep farmers and          have been so certified, and most con-
ing strategies for increasing the effi-       lumberjacks at a distance. But threats        sumers have refused to pay extra for
ciency of milling, examining the poten-       multiply where roads and rails pen-           “green” wood. But certification is gath-
tial for recycling and substituting other     etrate, bringing saws to trees and tim-       ering force; standards established over
materials for wood, creating programs         ber to markets. Revenue from                  the next few years may lock in forest
to raise the regulatory capacity needed       ecotourism may help preserve forests,         practices for decades. These standards
to stem illegal logging, and eliminat-        as might schemes to value forests’ con-       should be set with the path to long-
ing subsidies that perversely effect          tribution to the ecosystem (such as           term restoration in mind. In principle,
wood production and use.                      their climate-cooling sequestration of        the leading certification system—the
      As the stakeholders debate the vi-      carbon).                                      Forest Stewardship Council—is com-
sion of a Great Restoration, they will                                                      patible with such a goal, but efforts are
clarify the needed complementary poli-                                                      needed to demonstrate that economi-
cies and programs. One such require-          COMMON CAUSE                                  cally feasible certification can favor
ment is better strategies for dealing                                                       high-yield growth. Certification that
with the vast areas that lie “in the                 For the great restoration to suc-      favors low-yield strategies may produce
middle”—lands that are not under in-          ceed, farmers, foresters, and environ-        a happy tree but lead to a small forest.
tensive cultivation or wood production        mentalists must recognize their com-               The certification debate under-
but are also not formal, strictly pro-        mon interest in high-yield production.        scores the fact that no single approach
tected nature areas. To date, much of         Those concerned with forests have tra-        is enough for achieving the Restoration
the debate over protecting forests and        ditionally viewed farmers as part of the      by 2050. Policy must exert leverage in
wilderness has focused on formally de-        problem. But by lifting yields, farmers       all areas: adopting new technologies
marcated and legally protected areas.         can be part of the solution. Brussels         and practices to improve forestry and
Such protection rightly safeguards            and Washington can help matters by            agriculture, building a better informa-
Earth’s greatest forest treasures, but for-   paying farmers to grow forests instead        tion system, and launching a bottom-
mal protection holds little promise for       of paying them not to grow food.              up process for translating the grand
most of the world’s woodlands. Today,         Meanwhile, foresters are wary of envi-        vision of the Great Restoration into
only about 8% of world’s forests are          ronmentalists who, they fear, seek to         detailed strategies. Realistically, one
formally protected in parks. Many gov-        make forestry unprofitable and to fence       cannot expect all nations to come on
ernments hesitate to expand formal            off every parcel of land that can be          board at once. But surely 14 countries
protection, for fear of locking away          freed from production. Environmental-         can take the process seriously. With
land that might serve other purposes.         ists, in turn, accuse foresters of destroy-   them in the lead, the rest will follow.
In many settings, forest dwellers also        ing diversity, polluting the land, and             Although 2050 remains distant,
resist “protecting” their forests because     displacing local people. But Big Tim-         most elements of the plan need to be
well-meaning but ham-fisted govern-           ber and Big Green can and must learn          put in place in half that time—by
ments have tried to secure forests in         to meet each other’s core concerns.           2025. Trees are slow growers, and so
their natural state by banning long-                 The conflict between these groups      the saplings that will deliver nearly all
standing local practices such as hunt-        is especially evident in the effort           the 2 billion cubic meters of wood
ing and small-scale forestry.                 launched by the environmental com-            needed in 2050 must start growing 20
      Another critical need is to find        munity—and by some forest-products            to 25 years earlier. The year 2040
ways to assign economic value to              companies, mainly in Sweden, that al-         might suffice as a start date for some
standing forests (other than as cut tim-      ready meet extremely tight environ-           fast-growing trees (such as eucalyptus
ber). Most of the world’s untouched           mental standards—to certify wood that         and poplar), but even plantations of

 those trees will require investments in     achieve no net loss in their forests.
 mills and other assets that are best        Some cutting of natural woods may
 planned and built gradually and well        continue, but it will be offset by resur-
 in advance.                                 gent forests growing on liberated farm
       To achieve all of this by 2025 will   and timber lands. By 2025, the Forest
 require meeting even more immediate         14 can promise that there will be no
 goals. Over the next five years, the For-   more loss of natural forests, including
 est 14 should adopt a draft strategy        the large tracts of frontier forests that
 along the lines laid out above, which       are nature’s vital legacy.
 will help focus subsequent debates over           Neither feeding the world popu-
 policy. And they must start the decade-     lation nor supplying timber and pulp
 long process of building the data col-      requires the world forest estate to
 lection and analysis system necessary       shrink, as it has ever since ancient civi-
 for bottom-up assessments of national       lizations felled their forests to smelt,
 forest policies. In parallel, they should   build, heat, and cook. Rather, while
 start measuring overall progress. Will      profitably meeting growing demand for
 demand for cut wood really reach 2          wood products, humanity can vastly
 billion cubic meters by 2050? If wood       increase the area of forests and simul-
 consumption does not level out at 2         taneously reduce the amount of those
 billion cubic meters per year—perhaps       forests that is disturbed. Such a Great
 because of rising demand for paper—         Restoration is truly a worthy goal for
 can foresters lift yields more rapidly to   the landscape of the new millennium.
 compensate? Are crop yields rising at
 the 2% per year needed to liberate 200
 million hectares of agricultural land for
 forests? Are wood yields rising rapidly
 enough so that the planted forests of
 2025 will average 5 cubic meters’
 growth per hectare? Are forestry firms
 expanding plantations at about 2% per
 year—a rate consistent with historical
 patterns and sufficiently rapid to de-
 liver enough planted wood by 2050?
 Are countries implementing policies to
 help the liberated land recover and to
 protect the forests still not cut?
       News reports and publicity along
 the way can help realize the vision.
 Benchmarks set and accomplishments
 achieved should be well publicized to
 make the reality and significance of the
 Great Restoration apparent to all.
 Within the next decade, the 14 nations
 that lead the effort should manage to

Proceedings of the First International Symposium on
Ecological and Societal Aspects of Transgenic Plantations,
S.H. Strauss and H.D. Bradshaw, eds. College of Forestry,
Oregon State University, 2001. pp. 57-61.

Biotechnology and the Forest Products Industry
Alan A. Lucier
Maud Hinchee
Rex B. McCullough

                                                                  Forest biotechnology has great potential to produce important benefits for the forest
                                                             products industry and the general public. Benefits to industry may include higher value
                                                             raw materials, lower manufacturing costs, and further improvements in environmental
                                                             performance. Potential public benefits include new supplies of renewable energy and ma-
                                                             terials; effective new options for solving difficult problems in environmental management
                                                             and ecological restoration; and new opportunities for employment and sustainable devel-
                                                             opment in an industry based on renewable resources. The potential benefits of forest bio-
                                                             technology justify accelerated efforts to advance the underlying science; develop and test
                                                             promising applications; evaluate ecological risks and social concerns; and develop appro-
                                                             priate policy frameworks.
  Alan Lucier is Senior Vice

                                                                     he forest products industry is large and complex. It employs millions of
  President with the Na-                                               people with diverse skills at locations around the world. The industry’s
                                                                       products (Table 1) help meet important human needs for such things
  tional Council for Air
                                                             as housing, information, packaging, and personal hygiene.
  Improvement, Inc., Re-                                          There are good reasons for optimism about the future of the forest products
                                                             industry. World demand for forest products will increase substantially with in-
  search Triangle Park, NC.                                  creases in population and economic prosperity. Moreover, wood has inherent                                          environmental advantages relative to other raw materials. For example:

                                                             • Economic demand for wood provides important incentives for afforestation,
  Maud Hinchee is Chief                                        reforestation, and sustainable forest management.
  Technology Officer with                                    • Most products made from wood are renewable, recyclable, and require less
  ArborGen, Summerville,                                       fossil energy to manufacture than competing materials.

  SC.                                                        • Residuals from wood processing are important sources of renewable energy.
                                                                The forest products industry is already the world leader in biomass energy                                          production, and will probably increase its production substantially if new tech-
                                                                nologies (e.g., biomass gasification) are successful.
  Rex McCullough will retire                                      Optimism about the industry’s future is tempered by serious challenges. The
  in October 2001 from the                                   land base for future wood production will be constrained severely by competing
                                                             land uses (e.g., agriculture, residential development, and wilderness). In addition,
  position of Vice President                                 the industry is contending with dynamic and difficult market conditions; a large
                                                             and growing number of government regulations with major impacts on the in-
  of Forestry Research with
                                                             dustry; and important stakeholder initiatives such as forest certification.
  Weyerhaeuser Company,                                           The industry’s wood supply challenge can be overcome by increasing pro-
                                                             duction on lands well suited to intensive silviculture and by developing land-
  Tacoma, WA.                                                scape management strategies that improve the overall condition of forest ecosys-                            tems. Forest managers are making substantial progress in these directions by imple-
                                                             menting technologies such as tree improvement, weed control, wildlife manage-

                                                                 ment, landscape design, and many others. Effective integration
 Table 1. Examples of forest products that help meet important
                                                                 of technology options with economic, ecological, and social ob-
 human needs.
                                                                 jectives is one of the forest industry’s top priorities and the es-
 Forest Resources                                                sence of sustainable forestry.
 • sawlogs, pulpwood, fuel wood                                       Manufacturing facilities in the forest products industry are
 • recreation opportunities                                      technologically diverse and operate in many different countries,
 • ecosystem services such as water purification, carbon
                                                                 climates, and markets. General concerns include high capital
    sequestration, wildlife habitat
                                                                 costs, low commodity prices, and a complex array of environ-
 Building Materials                                              mental and energy issues. The industry has made substantial
 • framing lumber, structural panels, siding, beams, floor
                                                                 progress in environmental and energy performance, but still faces
    joists, roof trusses, interior paneling
                                                                 major challenges in these areas.
 • paper components of wall board, counters, and insulation
                                                                      Biotechnology can help the forest products industry over-
 Communication Papers
                                                                 come some of its most important challenges. In this paper, we
 • books, newspapers, magazines
 • office papers, stationary, school and note pads, drawing
                                                                 describe benefits of potential biotech applications in the industry’s
   paper                                                         forestry and manufacturing operations. We also discuss obstacles
 • greeting cards, poster and display boards                     to progress in forest biotechnology generally and some promis-
 Packaging                                                       ing paths forward.
 • boxes, bags, drums, tubes, spools, cores
 • paperboard for food packaging, milk cartons, juice cartons
 • pallets, wood shipping containers                             BIOTECHNOLOGY AND TREE
 Tissue and Absorbent Fibers
 • personal hygiene products
 • paper towels
 • diapers                                                            The productivity and quality of agricultural crops have been
 • convalescent bed pads                                         greatly improved by centuries of breeding, testing, and genetic
 Specialty Cellulose                                             selection. Modern crop varieties are much better sources of food
 • acetate textile fibers                                        and fiber than their wild ancestors, and they greatly reduce the
 • photographic films                                            amount of land that must be cultivated to meet human needs.
 • plastics, pharmaceuticals, food products                           In comparison to agricultural crops, trees planted for wood
 • thickeners for oil drilling muds                              production are wild, undomesticated plants. Most efforts to
 • rayon for tires and industrial hoses                          improve trees for wood production have been underway for less
 Other Forest Products                                           than 50 years. Initial results are scientifically and economically
 • steam & electricity from biomass fuels                        important, and they confirm expectations based on agricultural
 • Christmas trees                                               experience that tree species have enormous genetic potential that
 • envelopes, labels, file folders
                                                                 could be expressed in valuable new varieties.
 • toys, decorations, sporting goods
                                                                      Progress in forest tree improvement has been constrained
 • mulch, compost, wood ash, and other soil amendments
 • railroad ties, utility poles                                  by various difficulties inherent in tree breeding and propagation.
 • landscaping timbers, fence posts                              These include (a) need for multi-year progeny tests; (b) multi-
 • disposable cups & plates, take-out food containers            year delays from seed germination to flowering; (c) self incom-
 • furniture, tool handles, musical instruments                  patibility in important species (no inbred lines); and (d) biological
 • specialty chemicals, fragrances                               and economic obstacles to large-scale vegetative propagation of
                                                                 superior lines (especially in conifers).
                                                                      Biotechnology has great potential to accelerate tree improve-
                                                                 ment and enable production of higher-value raw materials for
                                                                 the forest products industry. Key technologies include (a) ad-

vanced breeding strategies based on                 Many other benefits from biotech-          ers have been disappointing for various
marker-aided selection; (b) improve-            nology and tree breeding are possible.         reasons—most notably high capital
ments in vegetative propagation based           For example:                                   costs (especially in the pulp and paper
on somatic embryogenesis and/or or-                                                            sector) and intense price competition
                                                • Pest management strategies based
ganogenesis; and (c) rapid introduction                                                        in the industry’s commodity markets.
                                                  on improvements in the genetic re-
of valuable traits into superior                                                               Disappointing financial returns,
                                                  sistance of trees and reduced quan-
germplasm by genetic engineering.                                                              coupled with general economic global-
                                                  tities of insecticides and fungicides.
      Acceleration of tree improvement                                                         ization, are driving a dramatic restruc-
through biotechnology will enable sub-          • Ecological restoration strategies en-        turing of the industry. Mergers and
stantial increases in tree growth rates           abled by genetic engineering of tree         acquisitions are producing a few glo-
on sites close to mills. When ready for           species devastated by exotic diseases        bal-scale competitors and creating
harvest, these sites will yield large num-        (e.g., American chestnut).                   niches for new smaller-scale companies.
bers of uniform stems per hectare.                                                                  Although financial and market is-
High yields will reduce harvesting costs        • Carbon sequestration, soil reclama-          sues are dominant near-term concerns,
and the area of forest land required to           tion, and bioremediation strategies          industry leaders have keen interests in
meet mill demands for raw material.               enabled by new trees capable of tol-         the potential of technology to reduce
Short-haul distances to mills will re-            erating poor soil conditions such as         manufacturing costs and create new
duce log transportation costs. Efficien-          drought and chemical contamina-              products. Biotechnology in particular
cies in harvesting and transportation             tion.                                        has enormous potential. In addition to
will reduce fossil fuel consumption and         • New strategies for sustainable pro-          improving the quality and quantity of
CO2 emissions associated with raw                 duction of valuable chemicals in             raw material supplies, biotechnology
material acquisition.                             trees based on genetic engineering           could have radical impacts on pulping
      Faster growth is important, but is          of secondary metabolic pathways.             processes, waste-to-energy systems, and
only one of the potential benefits of                                                          other aspects of forest products manu-
accelerated tree improvement via bio-                                                          facturing. For example:
technology. For example, new tree va-
rieties with special wood properties will
                                                BIOTECHNOLOGY AND                              • Biotechnology could enable the de-

enable more rapid development of raw            FOREST PRODUCTS                                  velopment of new pulping processes
                                                                                                 based on selective enzymatic cleav-
material supplies tailored to the re-
quirements of manufacturing processes.
                                                MANUFACTURING                                    age of lignin polymers. Potential
                                                                                                 benefits include lower capital costs,
Improvements in raw material quality
                                                     The forest products industry is             higher product quality, and lower
will allow mills to reduce manufactur-
                                                under great financial pressure at                consumption of both chemicals and
ing costs and improve product quality.
                                                present. Overall returns to sharehold-           energy.
See Table 2 for examples.
                                                                                               • Biotechnology could enable the de-
Table 2. Examples of wood quality improvements and benefits that might be achieved               velopment of new systems for con-
through biotechnology.                                                                           verting organic residuals into
Wood quality improvements                    Potential benefits                                  bioenergy. Potential benefits include
                                                                                                 lower costs for solid waste manage-
Smaller core of juvenile wood                Greater lumber strength and stability
                                                                                                 ment and reduced need for fossil
Higher specific gravity                      Higher pulp yields relative to inputs of energy
                                             and chemicals in the pulp mill
Lower lignin content                         Reduced inputs of chemicals and energy
                                             in pulp bleaching

 REALIZING THE                               Table 3. Forest biotechnology projects supported through Agenda 2020.
                                             Principal      Project title                                Lead institution
 BIOTECHNOLOGY                               Investigator

                                             Brunner        Dominant negative mutations                  Oregon State University
      During the past century, the for-                     of floral genes for engineering sterility
 est sector has made great progress in       Chang          Exploiting genetic variation of fiber        North Carolina State University
 developing better systems for growing                      components and morphology in
 and harvesting trees, making and dis-                      juvenile loblolly pine
 tributing products, and reducing envi-      Davis          Molecular physiology                         University of Florida
 ronmental impacts. Progress has been                       of nitrogen allocation in poplar
 enabled by research, development, and       Davis          Molecular determinants of                    University of Florida
 integration of technologies as diverse as                  carbon sink strength in wood
 forest regeneration, landscape manage-      Li             Search for major genes using                 North Carolina State
 ment, chemical and material recycling,                     progeny test data to accelerate              University
 and biological treatment of wastewater.                    development of superior loblolly
      Biotechnology is poised to make                       pine plantations

 significant contributions in various sys-   Neale          Genetic marker and quantitative              USDA Forest Service
                                                            trait loci mapping for wood quality
 tems in the forest sector. Realizing the
                                                            traits in loblolly pine and hybrid poplars
 great potential of forest biotechnology
                                             Peter          Accelerated stem growth rates and          Institute of Paper
 will be an enormous and exciting chal-
                                                            improved fiber properties of loblolly pine Science & Technology
 lenge. The rate of progress will depend
                                             Pullman        Trees containing built-in pulping catalysts Institute of Paper
 on science and technology factors in-
                                                                                                        Science & Technology
 teracting with social, economic, and
                                             Tsai           Genetic augmentation of syringyl             Michigan Technological University
 political issues.                                          lignin in low-lignin aspen trees
      Inadequate government support          Tschaplinski   Biochemical and molecular                    Oak Ridge National Lab
 for pre-competitive research is an im-                     regulation of crown architecture
 portant obstacle to progress in forest      Tuskan         Marker-aided selection for wood              Oak Ridge National Lab
 biotechnology. Through its Agenda                          properties in loblolly & hybrid poplar
 2020 program, the forest products in-       Whetten        Pine gene discovery project                  North Carolina State University
 dustry has suggested priorities for pre-    Williams       QTL and candidate genes for                  Texas A&M University
 competitive research and provided                          growth traits in Pinus taeda L.
 funding for several projects in partner-
 ship with the U.S. Department of En-
 ergy and the Forest Service (Table 3).      trols of key processes such as wood for-          tant. Informed discussions, research,
      [MS 9 (Lucier) table 3 near here]      mation are formidable tasks that will             and collaborations involving diverse
      Agenda 2020 and other programs         take decades at current rates of                  parties are needed to better define is-
 are supporting valuable projects, but       progress. A major initiative is needed            sues and potential solutions. The new
 the low overall level of funding for pre-   to accelerate pre-competitive research            Institute of Forest Biotechnology
 competitive research is a critical limit-   in these areas.                                   ( will have an
 ing factor in forest biotechnology.               The ecological, social, and policy          important role in bringing diverse par-
 Mapping the genomes of model tree           issues associated with forest biotechnol-         ties together and organizing necessary
 species and discovering molecular con-      ogy are complex and extremely impor-              activities.

CONCLUSIONS                                  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
      Forest biotechnology holds impor-          The authors thank Dawn Parks at
tant opportunities and challenges for        Westvaco Corporation for helpful com-
the forest products industry. The            ments and suggestions.
industry’s technology leaders appreci-
ate the economic potential of forest
biotechnology and have diverse views
on critical issues such as time to com-
mercialization and risk management
      The future of biotechnology and
its value to the forest products indus-
try will be affected greatly by public
perceptions of social and ecological is-
sues. We believe the potential benefits
of forest biotechnology justify greater
public support for pre-competitive re-
search to advance the science; develop
and test promising applications; evalu-
ate ecological risks and social concerns;
and develop appropriate policy frame-
      In this paper, we have outlined
some promising applications of forest
biotechnology with emphasis on their
possible value to the forest products
industry. Potential benefits to the pub-
lic are also substantial. They include (a)
new supplies of renewable energy and
materials; (b) effective new options for
solving difficult problems in environ-
mental management and ecological res-
toration; and (c) new opportunities for
employment and sustainable develop-
ment in an industry based on renew-
able resources.

 Proceedings of the First International Symposium on
 Ecological and Societal Aspects of Transgenic Plantations,
 S.H. Strauss and H.D. Bradshaw, eds. College of Forestry,
 Oregon State University, 2001. pp. 62-69.

 Responding to New Trees and to the Issues at Hand:
 The Institute of Forest Biotechnology
 W. Steven Burke

                                                                   Effective and thoughtful development, application, and acceptance of complex new
                                                              technologies require many steps and participants. The movement from science and research
                                                              to products and public impels attention to three areas simultaneously: to science and re-
                                                              search; to industry and products; and to a richly complicated mixture of societal, ethical,
                                                              environmental, regulatory, and public issues. The academic and industrial forest endeavor,
                                                              historically not technology-intensive, is brought to new challenges by the process and is-
                                                              sues of biotechnology development. Application of biotechnology to trees and forests is,
                                                              moreover, particularly challenging because of their extraordinary importance to human de-
                                                              velopment, culture, values, and economies; trees are, after all, the only plant or crop to
                                                              which large numbers of people have routinely ascribed moral value. As a result, a full and
                                                              rigorous societal dialogue involving all parties attentive from whatever vantage point to for-
                                                              est biotechnology—scientists and researchers, industry, public interest groups and ethicists,
                                                              consumers and policy-makers—is requisite for considered and effective application of the
                                                              technology to trees. Bringing about such engagement will require new strategies, engage-
                                                              ment among parties varying in values and agenda, consensus and shared ground if pos-
                                                              sible, and sustained effort. Gaining such outcomes will be as important as demanding.
                                                              The Institute of Forest Biotechnology, a private non-profit corporation, was established in
                                                              2000 in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, to work for this engagement. Not a site
                                                              for research, the Institute will bring diverse parties together to address—through projects,
                                                              meetings, and publications—the research, scientific, industry, societal, and economic is-
                                                              sues of forest biotechnology worldwide.

                                                                       hree reasonable assertions offer a framework for thought:
                                                                       • Trees are the only plant routinely ascribed intrinsic moral value by large
                                                                         numbers of people.
                                                                       • Biotechnology will change some trees, and be applied worldwide in
                                                                         coming years.
                                                                        • Trees from technology will seem, to many, manifestly different from
     W. Steven Burke is                                                   trees of tradition.
     Senior Vice President,                                        How can we characterize an endeavor characterized by these—and other,
                                                              equally complicated—assertions? Why is forest biotechnology so very rich in is-
     Corporate Affairs and                                    sues as well as potential, in implications as well as complexity?
     External Relations North                                      How do we feel about trees? How do we feel about transgenic trees?
                                                                   We know how we feel about trees. Quite sensibly and understandably, we
     Carolina Biotechnology                                   love them, with an atavistic fervor rooted in something not easily defined.
                                                                   We are perhaps uncertain of our responses to transgenic trees and forest bio-
     Center, Research Tri-
                                                              technology, for the endeavor comes new to our attention.
     angle Park, NC.                                               How can we prepare our work, activities, and policies for the increasing de-
                                                              velopment and use of forest biotechnology over coming decades? Doing so is req-
                                                              uisite, as forest biotechnology worldwide will prove a complicated combination

of technology, imperative, and societal     of societal and economic return from         juncture, for sustained usually large
issues. Are we ready? How can we            further exploration and eventual devel-      investment. In stage 7, testing and tri-
think about trees, about forest biotech-    opment of promising research? Return         als establish the safety and effectiveness
nology, and about strategies of re-         of both sorts is of course requisite, in     of the new product. Stage 8, is manu-
sponse?                                     some balance determined appropriate          facturing or growing. Stage 9 proves
     I offer a framework for our think-     by varied parties. The forest industry       increasingly important: adoption by
ing, under four necessarily interrelated    worldwide is, at present, very much          existing companies or intermediates of
headings:                                   engaged in determining whether suffi-        the new product or application, a de-
                                            cient return can over time be gained         cision of use by the food processing or
1. Thinking about Technology
                                            to merit substantial investment in for-      healthcare or pulping industries. Stage
2. Thinking about Trees                     est biotechnology.                           10 reveals final acceptance and use, at
                                                 The continuum from discovery to         the consumer as well as societal levels.
3. Representative Forest Biotechnology      application is a combination of stages,      Stage 11 is the key juncture that we
   Issues                                   participants and resources, and issues. It   seem too seldom to address, compelled
4. The Newly Established Institute of       also requires attention to the context       as we are by the demands of the im-
   Forest Biotechnology.                    and imperative of biotechnology devel-       mediate: charting the future.
                                            opment.                                            It is difficult to imagine an area of
                                                                                         biotechnology as demanding of future
THINKING ABOUT                              Eleven Broad Stages                          charting—of a thoughtful and pur-
                                                                                         poseful analysis of the horizon—as for-
TECHNOLOGY                                        The process involves many differ-      estry and trees.
                                            ent steps, each different in require-
     To consider the trees of technol-
                                            ments, participants, length, and out-
ogy, we must have a reasonable under-
                                            comes. Eleven broad stages are key,
                                                                                         Participants and
standing of technology development,
                                            largely constant and common, and             Resources
the context in which forest biotechnol-
                                            must be addressed by a combination of              The process and stages of technol-
ogy grows. Technology development is
                                            vision, funding, activities, and policy.     ogy development are shaped and moved
a process—a continuum—a movement
                                            They can be laid out in a suggestive,        along by varied persons and entities, pri-
from societal idea and need to prod-
                                            but not exact, schema.                       vate and public. Some participants are
uct and societal impact. The movement
                                                  Science and research, stage 1, pro-    directly and always required to move
is deliberate, long-term, sequential, and
                                            vide the requisite foundation. Stage 2,      biotechnology from science to product:
complicated. It can be easily broken
                                            policy and impetus, impels the decision      researchers; universities and laboratories;
down into three main phases:
                                            to commit to further development.            small and large companies; entrepreneurs
• Discovery, a matter largely of science    Technology transfer proves an increas-       and risk-takers; investors; regulators; in-
  and research                              ingly crucial stage 3, enabling the          termediate users or adopters; trained
                                            movement of promising ideas from the         workers; manufacturers or growers; ethi-
• Development, in the main the realm
                                            research to the private sectors. In stage    cists; educators; catalysts, policy-makers
  of industry in free market societies
                                            4, application and product possibilities     and committed governments; and ac-
• Application, eventual societal utili-     are actively explored, as foundational       cepting users.
  zation and, we hope, beneficial im-       impetus for stage 5: involvement or                Other participants support and
  pact.                                     formation of companies working to            facilitate the process. While not re-
     A prime question must be very          move the possibility to commercial re-       quired, their presence and thoughtful
soon addressed towards the end of the       ality. Stage 6 manifests the ongoing         participation often accelerates results.
discovery phase: what is the likelihood     imperative, particularly key at this         Among such entities are administra-

 tors; technology transfer officers; bio-    manifestly changing living organisms             Lack of required resources and par-
 technology centers or initiatives; incu-    would not yield issues?                     ticipants at any stage can slow or even
 bators and research parks; varied gov-            The issues of biotechnology are       stop the process. Without, for instance,
 ernment agencies; policy-makers with        societal or policy, ethical or personal—    trained researchers, or risk-taking com-
 a long-term view; experienced manag-        or, in most cases, an overlapping mix-      panies, or accepting users, technology
 ers able to bring experience to a sec-      ture. They are generally interesting and    development is less likely to come about.
 ond or third project, company, or tech-     usually consequential as well as numer-     Failure to address key issues or challenges
 nological challenge; and good critics.      ous. A short representative list of the     at any stage can also slow or even stop
      Other participants are indirectly      broad issues at hand can reasonably         the process, lessening acceptance as well
 involved, or skeptical, or even possibly    include questions about the very rea-       as economic and societal gain. Here are
 hostile, but they also shape the process    son for undertaking biotechnology;          two easy examples: First, insufficient
 of technology development, for they         policy and commitment; technology           funding for science at the beginning of
 shape the nature and terms of the           transfer; safety and risk; who benefits;    the process can truncate a vital move-
 movement from science to public.            regulations; labeling; public acceptance;   ment. Is funding for biotechnology in
 These parties are varied in agenda and      the morality of it all; use of technol-     trees sufficient to ensure good research
 approach, and include researchers in        ogy in general, particularly that based     and good analysis of outcomes? Second,
 other fields; ethicists and philosophers;   on living organisms; trade and inter-       insufficient preparation for public re-
 government agencies; investors and          national implications; sources of capi-     sponse can curtail the final stage of the
 funders varied projects, agencies, and      tal; process versus product, unexpected     process. Was sufficient attention paid
 institutions; informed thinkers and         consequences; evaluation of outcomes;       early to the issues of food and agricul-
 uninformed thinkers; questioners; non-      and fear of the new. More specific is-      tural biotechnology? Are we preparing
 government organizations; legislators       sues are those of: cloning; stem cells;     early and thoughtfully enough for the
 and policy-makers; other professions;       bioterrorism; globalization; altered        ecological, societal, and policy issues to
 public interest groups; users; and—to       landscapes; new food; biodiversity; ge-     inevitably accompany forest biotechnol-
 our recent consternation, here in the       netic privacy; reducing life to genes;      ogy?
 American Northwest, directed to             rights of animals; rights of plants; con-        The reality and implications of the
 trees—terrorists.                           trol over nature; genetic transference;     process of technology development are
      These participants vary enor-          ownership of germplasm; and                 increasingly apparent for the forestry
 mously in training, values, and expec-      xenotransplantation.                        endeavor. Development and explora-
 tations—and, as such, in their response           While this process—combining          tion of biotechnology make the forestry
 to stages, outcomes, and the issues at-     stages, participants, and issues—is         endeavor now more a technology-di-
 tendant to the process.                     complicated, the key point is simple:       rected enterprise than one shaped by
                                             for effective, thoughtful, and appropri-    its traditional approach and slower-
                                             ate biotechnology development, in any       moving results. Traditionally and his-
 Intrinsic Issues
                                             sector, this process and its attendant      torically not technology intensive, the
      Issues are intrinsic to the process    imperatives must always be understood       forestry endeavor has brought biotech-
 of biotechnology development. Some          and always addressed. The reason is         nology to the challenges of this process
 are expected and follow logically from      clear. For movement along the con-          and of its issues.
 earlier experience; others are new and      tinuum to be successful and acceptable,          Understanding the process of
 largely without precedent. They vary        a sector—such as forestry—or even a         technology development is thus in-
 by stage and by participant point of        single company must gain or involve         creasingly required for participants in
 view. They demand our considered at-        all participants, must move through all     forest biotechnology. The trees of tech-
 tention and should not occasion our         steps, and must address all appropri-       nology are not—in genesis, develop-
 surprise. Is it likely that a technology    ate issues.                                 ment, and attendant issues—exactly

like the trees of tradition. Reflecting       industry, and society in probably             address all of some of the issues.
the complicated process from which            roughly equal measure.                        Worldwide, in fact, we see substantial
they spring, they are also more diffi-             No earlier technology has from its       differences in underlying values, in is-
cult to bring about.                          onset so required this imperative; none,      sues judged important, in ethical
                                              certainly, has yielded comparable delib-      frameworks, and in commitment to
                                              erate attention in all three areas simul-     measured public discourse.
The Context of Technology
                                              taneously. Such attention is as much                The imperative to effectively, re-
Development                                   societal responsibility as necessary strat-   alistically, and credibly anticipate and
      The process does not take place in      egy. Experience reveals that we have too      address the issues of biotechnology is
a void. Technologies do develop within        often addressed the ethical and societal      enormous and cannot be questioned.
the life, culture, and values of a soci-      implications of technology too late, at       Doing so is neither academic nor a
ety . . . within the zeitgeist, as the Ger-   the end of the process, as a last thought     luxury, but is instead the sine qua non
mans so nicely characterize this com-         if not as an after-thought. Sometimes         of movement from science to public.
bination of time and spirit. This sur-        this has been done with admirable in-         Analysis and resolution of key issues
rounding context is shaped by history,        tentions, and sometimes more to in-           will be required in some countries if
tradition, relation, values, and expec-       duce public acceptance.                       certain research and applications are to
tations, of individuals as well as of so-          We must do better with biotech-          move forward. It is quite possible that
ciety. This cultural and societal context     nology, giving attention as appropriate       certain products and applications will
directly or indirectly affects our ap-        to numerous, difficult, and often very        be philosophically vetted, rather than
proach to technology development              new issues at all points along the con-       more traditionally evaluated largely in
and, simultaneously if not always             tinuum of technology development.             terms of feasibility and safety. It is,
clearly, our responses to it. This con-       Identifying, understanding, and ad-           moreover, possible that certain out-
text shapes research and product pri-         dressing different issues at different        comes, results, or applications will ul-
orities, attitudes to risk taking, polices    stags is enormously challenging. Our          timately not be developed, acceptable,
and issues, public and institutional re-      intentions are good; the community            or used.
sponses, and funding decisions.               working for biotechnology has proven                Such considerations will apply, to
      Thoughtful awareness of this con-       remarkably aware of its full societal re-     as yet undetermined degrees, to forest
text, and realistic attention to it, is re-   sponsibilities. However, practical reali-     biotechnology, as to food biotechnol-
quired for effective, long-term biotech-      ties often make difficult our attention       ogy, use of stem cells, and human clon-
nology development and use. Trees in          to the issues at hand. First, participants    ing. Accordingly, the imperative to
particular demand such awareness and          vary greatly along the continuum, in          thoughtfully prepare for the issues at
attention, for our responses to trees are     their tasks, vantage points, expecta-         hand is strong in particular for all per-
strongly shaped by intricate cultural,        tions, and values. Second, few partici-       sons and institutions applying new bio-
personal, visual, and historical factors.     pants are appropriately trained, par-         logical science to trees and forests.
                                              ticularly in ethical evaluations. Third,
                                              stages and results are usually separated
The Imperative of                             by time, place, and participants. Re-         THINKING ABOUT
Biotechnology                                 sults or implications later in the pro-       TREES
Development                                   cess cannot be easily anticipated or
                                              controlled in earlier stages. Finally—             We probably know more about
     Because shaped by issues and po-
                                              and perhaps most important in general         trees than about the unfolding process
sitioned fully within society, biotech-
                                              as well as specifically in relation to for-   of biotechnology development.
nology development thus requires at-
                                              est biotechnology—there is worldwide               Trees are profoundly important.
tention—from the beginning of the
                                              no common imperative to identify and          They are requisite for life on this
process and continually—to science,

 planet, key to environment and ecol-           endeavor, and somehow shaped to safe,           The ambiguity often implicit in
 ogy. They are, and always have been,           appropriate, and acceptable ends.               ethical decision-making about tech-
 requisite for civilization, key to human             Forest biotechnology is barely ex-        nology might prove particularly vex-
 and societal development. They create          plored, largely just beginning its move-        ing in forest biotechnology. How is
 one of the world’s largest and most            ment along the continuum from re-               a determination made between (a)
 important economic sectors. They have          search and science to applications and          the undisputed need to grow more
 extraordinarily wide mythic, symbolic,         society. As a result, issues, questions,        trees on less land and (b) possible
 religious, and historical resonance.           and implications can be better identi-          displeasure and risks attendant to
       Trees have greater impact on cul-        fied and addressed early; the varied            widespread plantations of transgenic
 ture and consciousness than any other          participants can, and should, be                trees?
 crop or plant. As noted earlier, most          brought early to the requirement do-
                                                                                                • The environmental and eco-
 people give an intrinsic moral value as        ing so. Doing so will be demanding,
                                                                                                  nomic value of trees altered to
 well as actual value to trees. Behaviors       for the intrinsic uncertainties of this
                                                                                                  have less lignin content and pos-
 as well as policy reflect our value-based      new technology in general are further
                                                                                                  sible related stresses and out-
 responses to trees worldwide. Human            affected by the compelling importance
                                                                                                  comes to trees so altered.
 responses to threats or loss are passion-      of trees to our consciousness and our
 ate, emotional, and often shaped by            planet.                                         • The need to grow altered trees ef-
 barely conscious imperatives. Forests                The environmental, societal,                ficiently in controlled settings
 are preserved by policy in richer or           policy, and ethical questions arising             and the diminishment or loss of
 more enlightened countries. Protecting         from forest biotechnology will be con-            some forests as rich ecological en-
 the landscape, in which trees are key,         sequential. Each is complicated and               vironments.
 has a moral imperative in a growing            not easily addressed, combining scien-
 number of places.                              tific, industry, and public imperatives.        • The imperative that transgenic
       It is therefore difficult to imagine a   A few can be listed as representative;            trees do not flower or reproduce
 more societally challenging global issue       there are more.                                   (for improved productivity or to
 than genetic engineering of forest trees.                                                        prevent genetic transference) and
                                                • Concerning the initial technological            the ecological benefits of flower-
                                                  imperative: Why undertake forest                ing to the environmental and to
 REPRESENTATIVE                                   biotechnology at all?                           other organisms.

 FOREST                                         • Concerning a more realistic impera-        • Concerning the human imperative to
                                                  tive: How can forest biotechnol-
 BIOTECHNOLOGY                                    ogy be thoughtfully developed and
                                                                                               work for improvement and survival: In
                                                                                               the face of varied undisputed factors
 ISSUES                                           appropriately applied? How can               (including land limitations and the
                                                  careful attention to questions and           ever-present need for wood prod-
      This challenge is understandable.           issues at all stages be assured?             ucts), is it unethical not to develop
 Merging the process of biotechnology
                                                                                               and apply forest biotechnology?
 development with trees and forests             • Concerning the derived benefit: Who
 worldwide will yield a rich mixture of           will predominantly benefit from for-       • Concerning the state of trees: Largely
 questions, implications, and issues—as           est biotechnology? Will different ben-       non-altered, the wildness of trees is
 much societal and ethical as scientific          efits be gained by different parties, in     remarkable, contrasting with centu-
 or economic. Science and research,               a reasonable balance?                        ries of deliberate alteration of other
 regulations and risk analysis, industrial                                                     key species, and conveys a large part
                                                • Concerning the inevitable tension be-
 and societal priorities, environment                                                          of their appeal. It also suggests pos-
                                                  tween perceived benefits and perceived
 and ecology, must all be brought to the                                                       sibly easier genetic transference be-

   tween altered and non-altered                forest biotechnology gain germ-             firmly held often inchoate passion
   stands.                                      plasm and economic benefits for a           about “natural” trees exist with a
                                                few nations, at the expense of those        realistic recognition that they are
• Concerning the long life and large pres-
                                                less sophisticated or less economi-         necessarily, in some cases, resources
  ence of trees: How can potential envi-
                                                cally developed?                            to be altered? How can understand-
  ronmental outcomes be anticipated
                                                                                            able emotion find balance with
  over many years? How might genetic         • Concerning the landscape: Honoring
                                                                                            practical technology?
  alternations prove unstable or yield         and preserving the landscape is a
  unexpected changes over time?                moral imperative. So is improving it,          Persons and places attentive to
                                               but agreement is less clear on accept-    trees—and forest biotechnology—
• Concerning the tree versus the forest:
                                               able means. Do genetically altered        worldwide must begin to address such
  How do quantity and clustering
                                               trees violate this imperative, in large   questions. How can this be effectively
  matter? Are fewer genetically altered
                                               or small numbers? Other alternations      done? What framework or resources
  trees (here and there, in parks and
                                               to trees do not seem to do so.            can assist?
  orchards, in your back garden) more
  acceptable than large numbers              • Concerning the many, varied, and com-
  neatly arrayed? Why?                         plicated environmental implications to
                                               which attention must be paid: Envi-
                                                                                         THE INSTITUTE OF
• Concerning the type of altered tree:
  Are apple trees immune to fungus
                                               ronmental and ecological questions        FOREST
                                               are inherently as much ethical as sci-
  in northern Europe, or regained
                                               entific, and should be judged as such.
  American elms, more acceptable
                                               Avoidable harm to the environment
  than pines altered for quicker tim-                                                         Answers, strategies, and assistance
                                               and living organisms is a prime moral
  ber production? Why?                                                                   will be required for many years. Over
                                                                                         coming decades, without question, for-
• Concerning managed tree plantations:
                                             • Concerning the ethical slippery slope:    est biotechnology worldwide will mix
  Intensively managed plantations
                                               Threatened or diminished tree spe-        science, industry, society, technological
  increase steadily worldwide, with
                                               cies can realistically be regained in     process, participants different in tasks
  good reasons, but often yield re-
                                               time through biotechnology. Does          and agenda, and layered issues. This
  sponses different than for other
                                               this prepare somehow for regaining        complexity must be granted, discussed,
  large crop plantings. Will forest bio-
                                               other, non-crop, species?                 and somehow addressed by the widely
  technology plantations yield even
                                                                                         divergent parties attentive to forest bio-
  more acute responses?                      • Concerning dialogue and engagement:
                                               Ethical standards are needed for de-
• Concerning variable regulatory and                                                          The task is demanding and con-
                                               velopment and application, but also
  policy frameworks worldwide: Coun-                                                     sequential. Remarkably, no entity had
                                               for discourse and opposition. Parties
  tries vary in their attention to test-                                                 until recently been established to ad-
                                               reflexively polar (on either side) can
  ing and trials, as well as their atten-                                                dress the task and the challenges. This
                                               probably be discounted.
  tion to ethical guidelines, the envi-                                                  void was seen as surprising by persons
  ronment, and public discussion.            • Concerning the forests on which life      attentive to forest biotechnology, and
  Forest biotechnology will likely be          depends: What do we expect of our         also as a liability. The absence of a
  early applied in countries with less         forests? How do we define—or re-          strong central voice for forest biotech-
  strong imperatives or experience in          fine—the natures, outcomes, and           nology lessened the likelihood that
  these areas.                                 uses of a forest?                         policy and issues worldwide will be
                                                                                         addressed with appropriate strengthen,
• Concerning the status of countries in-     • Concerning the passion that trees so      credibility, and thoughtfulness.
  volved in forest biotechnology: Will         understandably induce: How can

       Responding to this absence, a di-     dard problem-solving, and innovative       Governance
 verse committee of over 25 persons was      partnerships. Accordingly, the Institute
 brought together by the North Caro-         will, through activities, governance,           Twenty board members will mani-
 lina Biotechnology Center, catalyzed by     and philosophy,                            fest the imperative for varied voices,
 a reasonable premise: forest biotechnol-                                               representing three main groups in
                                             • Serve varied parties attentive to for-
 ogy could be assisted from the onset                                                   roughly equal balance: public interest
                                               est biotechnology, within the pro-
 by an organization directed to partner-                                                and non-governmental, academic and
                                               cess and within the larger societal
 ship, the issues at hand, and multiple                                                 governmental, and industry and indus-
                                               environment, as convener, problem-
 vantage points. The group—represent-                                                   try-related. The first 10 board members
                                               solver, common ground, and part-
 ing research, policy, academic, public,                                                have been determined: Christine Dean,
 and corporate interests— worked over                                                   Weyerhaeuser; Robert Friedman, the
 an 18-month period, from 1999 until         • Assist existing organizations and        H. John Heinz III Center for Science,
 early 2001. Merging imagination,              activities rather than unnecessarily     Economics, and the Environment;
 long-term vision, and common sense,           duplicate efforts.                       Robert Kellison; Lori Knowles, the
 the group crafted the philosophy, ap-                                                  Hastings Center; Dennis LeMaster,
 proach, and governance of a new en-         • Work for activities and decision-        Purdue University; Alan Lucier, Na-
 tity: The Institute of Forest Biotechnol-     making informed and balanced by          tional Council for Air and Stream Im-
 ogy. The mission of the newly-estab-          diverse voices.                          provement; John Pait, The Timber
 lished Institute is bold in nature and                                                 Company; Ronald Sederoff, North
 large in intent: To work for societal,      Emphases                                   Carolina State University; Ben Sutton,
 ecological, and economic benefits from                                                 CellFor; and myself.
                                                  The Institute will direct attention
 appropriate uses of biotechnology in
                                             and activities to three main areas. In
 forestry worldwide.
                                             Science and Research, the Institute will   Expected Key Initial
       The North Carolina Biotechnol-
 ogy Center has committed initial fund-      • Identify key topics for societal, eco-   Activities, 2001–2002
 ing of over $300,000 to the Institute,        logical, and genetic research.
 which will be housed administratively                                                      Administrative goals are to
 at the Center until resources are avail-    • Work for partnerships and funding.
                                                                                           • Gain an exceptional Executive
 able for an independent site. Addi-         In the area of Policy the Institute will        Director
 tional funding is sought, and over time
 must come in appropriate balance from       • Identify areas in which forestry,           • Move to full 20-member board
 project, industry, government, and            regulatory, technology, or public           • Work for short- and long-term
 foundation sources. The Institute’s first     policy is required.                           funding.
 employee, Ms. Susan McCord, has ini-
                                             • Coalesce partnerships and projects.      Communicational activities will ini-
 tiated activities.
       The sensibility and approach, em-                                                tially
                                             Responding to Societal Imperatives, the
 phases, governance, and expected key ini-   Institute will                                • Inform parties worldwide about
 tial activities of the Institute are out-                                                   the Institute
                                             • Identify key areas of societal, envi-
 lined below.
                                               ronmental, policy, and ethical is-          • Gain responses about activities
                                               sues.                                         and approach.
 Sensibility and Approach
     The challenges of forest biotech-       • Develop educational materials,           Addressing ecological and ethical is-
                                               projects, and multi-party meetings.      sues, the Institute plans to
 nology demand imagination, non-stan-

   • Commission a scientifically based      also valuable in due proportion to the
     study of the ecological risks as-      challenges and issues to be raised in
     sociated with forest biotechnol-       coming decades by the application of
     ogy                                    biotechnology to trees and forests.

   • Sponsor a workshop bringing to-
     gether diverse parties to shape
     and address these issues.

The Heritage Trees Program, the
Institute’s first program, has a direct
premise: the tools of biotechnology can
be used to regain or strengthen threat-
ened or diminished species, yielding
the best possible combination of scien-
tific, ecological, and societal outcomes.
The Program will

   • Commission a report to identify
     key species and what tools of mo-
     lecular biology can be appropri-
     ately brought to bear upon them.

   • Sponsor a workshop to coalesce
     partnerships and to focus efforts
     of varied groups.

   • Develop a peer-reviewed grants
     program to help fund targeted re-

Information and Technology Transfer
activities will

   • Develop a short publication in-
     troducing forest biotechnology.

   • Develop the Institute as a site for
     information and resources on for-
     est biotechnology.

   • Respond to initial requests from
     institutions and industry for
     project assistance.

    Development of the Institute of
Forest Biotechnology is enormously
demanding and challenging . . . but

 Proceedings of the First International Symposium on
 Ecological and Societal Aspects of Transgenic Plantations,
 S.H. Strauss and H.D. Bradshaw, eds. College of Forestry,
 Oregon State University, 2001. pp. 70-81.

 Will the Marketplace See the Sustainable Forest for the
 Transgenic Trees?
 Don S. Doering
                                                                   A public or privately financed market for genetically engineered trees depends upon
                                                              how the technology is applied, who participates in the decisions of commercialization, and
                                                              society’s general acceptance of the release of genetically engineered organisms into the en-
                                                              vironment. The international debacle of the introduction of genetically engineered food
                                                              and fiber crops provides valuable lessons to the nascent tree biotechnology industry that
                                                              products must have broad social utility, be designed for environmental safety, and be tested
                                                              for ecological impacts. The introduction of genetically engineered trees can occur via an
     Don S. Doering is on the                                 appropriate regulatory framework and a collaborative effort of the public and private sec-
                                                              tor as well as stakeholders from civil society. Meeting the future global needs for fresh
     senior staff of the World
                                                              water, biodiversity, materials, energy, habit, and paper will require keeping sight of the
     Resources Institute’s                                    sustainable forestry goals beyond the transgenic trees.

     Sustainable Enterprise                                           orests and tree plantations can sustainably provide all the necessary goods
                                                                      and services—from timber to protected habitat—that the world wants.
     Program, Washington,
                                                                      Today we are far from that sustainable ideal. The genetic engineering of
     DC.                                                      trees has the potential to contribute to both sustainable and unsustainable for-
                                                              estry practices. That contribution of genetically engineered trees depends on the
                                                              private and public use of the technology and how economic markets develop for
                                                              wild and domesticated trees. Will that marketplace develop and who will shape
     He is an expert on corpo-
                                                              its path?
     rate strategy for sustain-                                     This essay is based on the assumption that genetically engineered trees will
                                                              be commercialized, but the timing and trajectory of commercial introduction are
     able business and on the                                 far from certain. Will a market develop in some countries, while intense societal
     role of biotechnology in                                 opposition closes markets in other regions, as has been the case for genetically
                                                              engineering food crops? Can we learn from the experience with other genetically
     sustainable agriculture.                                 modified organisms to improve the chances that public and private genetic engi-
                                                              neering of trees will safely and fairly serve the needs of society? The view pre-
     He has served as a Senior
                                                              sented here, based on observation of crop biotechnology, is that there may be
     Fellow at the Wharton                                    conditions under which transgenic trees reach the marketplace. But the needed
                                                              pre-conditions of stakeholder engagement, increasing the social utility of prod-
     School of Business and
                                                              ucts, novel partnerships, and design-for-environment call for a new approach to
     holds a Ph.D. in Biology                                 commercial genetic engineering of plants and a break with the example of first-
                                                              generation genetically engineered crops.
     from M.I.T. The opinions
     expressed herein are
                                                              GM TREES: HOW AND WHEN, NOT IF
     those of the author and
     do not represent the                                           Genetically engineered trees are in the environment. In hundreds of experi-
                                                              mental field trials of dozens of species and in dozens of countries, private and
     opinions of the World                                    public sector scientists are conducting research on transgenic trees. None of these
                                                              trials are pre-commercialization, however many may be viewed as commercial
     Resources Institute.
                                                              prototypes. The cautious but obvious interest of the forest industry and interest

among academic scientists in geneti-        ogy by its proponents share many simi-      comes an advocate of ecosystem resto-
cally engineered trees is reminiscent of    larities with the aims of crop              ration.
the early moments of agricultural bio-      biotechnologists. As we contemplate              Were Dr. Seuss to invent this story
technology. As described below, a set       increased corporate and public invest-      today, he might incorporate powerful
of forces lend an air of inevitability to   ment in tree biotechnology, it is fair to   features of the 21st century market-
commercial introduction of genetically      wonder how will society benefit and         place. This is still a time of powerful
engineered trees.                           how many corporate casualties will          multi-national corporations in which
      Even as genetically engineered        there be along the way?                     supply and the openness of markets are
trees are intriguing, it is hard to imag-                                               strongly influenced by corporate inten-
ine that a forest industry executive or                                                 tions and political influence; technolo-
tree biotechnologist would want to see      LISTENING TO THE                            gies are still pushed to the marketplace.
product introduction of trees follow                                                    Product performance now includes the
the example of GE food crops. At first
                                            LORAX: CREATING A                           consumer demand, regulations for
glance, introduction of herbicide resis-    21ST CENTURY                                product lifecycle stewardship, recycling,
tant and pesticidal crops is a story of                                                 and environmentally friendly design.
fantastically fast technology adoption      MARKET                                      The ability to sell to society is now
and market penetration. Only five                                                       governed by demand and the societally
years after their introduction, almost            The Lorax is a clear and compel-      granted license-to-operate. As is so
three-quarters of U.S. cotton, over half    ling story of unsustainable forest man-     richly illustrated by European rejection
of U.S. soybean and a fifth of the U.S.     agement and unsustainable business          of America’s genetically engineered
corn crop is planted in GE varieties        strategy (Seuss 1971). The book pre-        crops, stakeholders exclusive of custom-
(Carpenter and Gianessi 2001). With         sents a 20th-century view that a mar-       ers and shareholders now have the
another look, introduction of GE food       ket is created by product performance,      power to close global markets through
crops is a product introduction night-      supply, and demand. In the classic          protest, political power, and boycott.
mare. Agricultural biotechnology            children’s story by Dr. Seuss, the Once-    Corporations (including some of the
CEOs have been fired or replaced, cor-      ler uses the fiber of the Truffula Tree     largest timber companies and largest
porate reputations have been shaken,        (species unknown) to knit thneeds, a        wood-buyers) have been forced to
billions of dollars of shareholder value    multi-purpose textile that is “a-fine-      change business practice and strategy
has been lost, and ag-biotech divisions     something-that-all-people-need.” The        because of civil society activism. Social
of large companies have been swapped,       demand is immediate, voracious, and         license-to-operate, societal acceptance,
closed, and expelled from their parent      is served by the Once-ler’s innovation      stakeholder engagement, and corporate
companies. The societal unity in Eu-        that automates thneed production and        social responsibility are now central
rope in rejection of biotechnology          Truffala harvesting—over the repeated       strategic issues of business leadership
crops has slammed closed valuable           and furious objections of the Lorax.        and not just public relations functions.
grain markets and ‘frankenfoods’ have       The Lorax is himself a forest resident      In today’s update of The Lorax, the
become an icon of the global anti-cor-      and the spokesperson for other Truffula     Lorax would be supported by outside
porate and anti-globalization move-         ecosystem stakeholders such as the Bar-     activists in his thneed opposition, bar-
ments. Some of the same companies           ba-loots, Swomee Swans, and Hum-            ba-loots would be found chained to
involved in food crop biotechnology         ming Fish. As the thneed industry and       trees and to thneed shop shelves, leg-
are involved in GE trees, many field        tree harvesting degrade the basis of the    islation would protect the Swomee
trials are testing the same traits of       ecosystem, the native species migrate,      Swans, and perhaps the story would
glyphosate tolerance and Bacillus           the resource collapses, and the thneed      have a different outcome.
thuringiensis (Bt) endotoxin expression,    business collapses. The Once-ler is left
and the aspirations for tree biotechnol-    in financial ruin and—too late—be-

 THEMES OF THE SOCIAL                             seen by many) as being potentially
                                                  unsafe for humans, animals, and the
                                                                                               environmental record and political in-
                                                                                               fluence; images of clearcuts on public
 CONTROVERSIES OF                                 environment. The utility of the prod-        lands and protesters blocking logging

 CROP BIOTECHNOLOGY                               ucts to the consumer and even to the
                                                  farmer are questioned. Not only is the
                                                                                               trucks have been potent symbols
                                                                                               throughout the last 30 years of the
                                                  transparency of companies under fire,        environmental movement. A union of
       Genetically engineered crops uni-
                                                  but so has been the pro-biotechnology        the timber industry and the plant bio-
 fied many social movements that had
                                                  stance of the U.S. and European gov-         technology industry comes poorly
 never been so united and so armed
                                                  ernments and the lack of transparency        armed to a battle based upon public
 with potent symbols such as baby food,
                                                  in the regulatory process for GE crop        trust, and is a dream marriage to an
 monarch butterflies, and the small-
                                                  approvals. But perhaps of greatest so-       anti-corporate activist (Lenzner and
 scale farmer. A common cause was
                                                  cietal distaste to opponents of biotech-     Kellner 2000, Sampson and Lohmann
 found that united individuals and
                                                  nology is the lack of personal choice        2000).
 NGOs with interests in food safety and
                                                  in choosing foods derived from geneti-             The agricultural biotechnology
 consumer choice, farmers’ rights and
                                                  cally engineered commodities, coupled        industry used, and still uses, the prom-
 property rights, spirituality in a tech-
                                                  with the perceived unethical and             ised benefit of biotechnology for sus-
 nological world, economic justice and
                                                  opaque actions of the biotech compa-         tainable food supply to earn its social
 global trade, corporate influence and
                                                  nies in seemingly imposing the prod-         license to operate. In doing so, they
 economic justice, hunger and the en-
                                                  ucts upon the market.                        may have picked the wrong arena for
 vironment.1 Recognizing this conflu-
                                                                                               taking on opposition interests. First-
 ence of interests is not to deny their
                                                                                               generation biotechnology products did
 validity but it helps to see underlying
 themes that merit deep consideration
                                                  TRUST                                        not address causes of food insecurity
                                                                                               and were not designed to be grown in
 by a nascent forest biotechnology in-
                                                        The benefits of transparency, re-      climates or designed for agricultural
 dustry: individual choice, product
                                                  spected ethics, and the support of so-       systems where there is food insecurity.
 safety, social utility, transparency, and
                                                  cial values are captured in the word         The arena of food security and sustain-
                                                  trust. The ag-biotechnology companies,       able agriculture put the industry in
       Genetic modification itself is con-
                                                  and by association many scientists who       debates with opponents with superior
 troversial yet we have examples that
                                                  worked with those companies, have            knowledge of global food needs and
 society weighs its risks and controver-
                                                  largely lost the trust of the politically    with harsh critiques of industrialized
 sies against benefits. The genetic engi-
                                                  active public, particularly the ‘anti-       agriculture.2 The companies’ relative
 neering of microbes to produce vital
                                                  biotech’ activist organizations. The loss    financial investments in ‘public good’
 medical therapeutics such as insulin or
                                                  of trust has many origins, some of           projects vs. industrial agriculture
 erythropoietin is acceptable because the
                                                  which hold lessons for commercializa-        projects are in no way proportional to
 organisms are under high containment
                                                  tion of GE trees. The public’s experi-       their treatment in the industry’s pub-
 and unable to replicate in the environ-
                                                  ence with automotive, tobacco, phar-         lic relations material. Such dissonance
 ment, the product has a clear utility in
                                                  maceutical, chemical, and oil compa-
 saving lives, and the medial consumer
                                                  nies has created suspicion when large        2
                                                                                                 It is fair to note that many biotechnology
 has information and choice.
                                                  and apparently powerful companies            opponents continue to make a similar strategy
       The first products of the biotech-                                                      mistake in arguing against biotechnology on
                                                  claim to act in the public good and
 nology industry were seen (and still are                                                      scientific grounds when actually their objections
                                                  make loud protestations of public            are rooted in much more complex social and
  See for example: The Genetically Engineered     safety and benefit. The logging and          economic issues. As the scientific community
 Food Alert (, The Organic                                                 inexorably and effectively addresses those issues,
                                                  timber products industry has similar
 Consumer Association ( and                                                   the chance for valuable and productive societal
 The Five Year Freeze (   reputational liabilities for its poor past
                                                                                               debate is missed.

between message, image, and action
fuels distrust.
                                            MAXIMIZE SOCIAL                              unlikely that products of genetically
                                                                                         engineered trees will be cheaper. So
     Forest biotechnology will not save     UTILITY                                      how can forest biotechnology create
the world forests in the coming decades                                                  social benefit for those that may bear
any more than crop biotechnology will             Sustainable business is business       unknown environmental impacts?
solve problems of food insecurity. Tech-    that raises its social utility by creating
nology is only a small component to         environmental and social value in ad-
solve problems rooted in long histori-      dition to economic value, while not          HIGH IMPACT PRIVATE
cal economic and political inequity,        depleting resources. Good environ-
environmental mismanagement, and            mental performance in the past meant         FOREST
traditional harvest practices. There has    doing “less harm.” Today’s stakeholder       BIOTECHNOLOGY
also been little or no detailed analysis    demands performance beyond regula-
today to say that genetically engineered    tory compliance and favors companies               Among the traits and benefits un-
trees might relieve pressures on threat-    and products that do “more good”             der consideration for forest biotechnol-
ened biodiverse forests or might signifi-   rather than less harm. Many have ob-         ogy that may have the greatest social
cantly impact pulp and paper supply         served that there would have been so-        utility are the reduced-lignin designs
in the regions of highest future de-        cietal acceptance of biotechnology if        that may lower the chemical, water and
mand.                                       only the first products had yielded di-      energy use, and pollution created by
     The lesson for business is to trans-   rect consumer benefit such as better-        the pulp and paper industry. Though
parently test, quantify, and communi-       tasting, more convenient, safer, more        the cost savings may not reach far
cate the economic benefit of tree bio-      nutritious, or cheaper foods. The same       down the value chain, the benefit will
technology to themselves and to soci-       will be true of forest products. An of-      occur at the site of milling. The com-
ety. The typical consumer understands       ten associated observation is that the       munities at or near the plantations and
the desire of businesses to grow, to re-    agricultural biotechnology industry has      the paper mills may receive a net envi-
duce costs and to eliminate environ-        asked the public to bear unknown risks       ronmental benefit of cleaner water and
mental liabilities. Genetically engi-       of genetic engineering with no per-          air in their communities. These prop-
neered tree plantations in regulated and    ceived direct benefits.                      erties may even allow branding of an
industrialized markets may well im-               A public invited to live next to       otherwise undifferentiated product.
prove corporate profitability and lower     genetically engineered forests or or-        But there is a catch. Selling cleaner
a company’s net environmental im-           chards will ask “are we getting wood         processes involves admitting current
pacts. “We’re doing this for our busi-      or paper that is better, stronger, longer-   environmental liabilities and dirty pro-
ness” will resonate more truly with a       lasting, more appealing or cheaper? Or       cesses. How much of a paper
skeptical public than will claims that      “are we getting fruit that is better-tast-   company’s resource base has to be from
massive investments in new industrial       ing, longer-lasting, more nutritious, or     reduced-lignin trees to make a measur-
technologies are motivated for the lo-      cheaper?” Considering the lack of dif-       able and transparent environmental
cal public good or are intended to di-      ferentiation and low cost among so           impact and to outweigh subjecting all
rectly save distant threatened forests. A   many timber and paper products, the          its production to scrutiny? As air and
transgenic pine in Georgia will no          products of genetically engineered trees     water regulations and energy costs put
more save the forests of Indonesia than     may not deliver these kinds of direct        increasing pressure on the industry, the
will an improved soybean grown in           consumer benefits. With farm costs           day may come surprisingly soon.
Iowa benefit the food-insecure peoples      (plantations in this case) as a small              A second intriguing trait for social
of Africa and Asia. Business messages       component of retail costs combined           utility is fast growth. In this case the
are more effective when true and            with the high costs of regulatory ap-        goal would be to develop a fast-grow-
simple, rather than simplistic.             proval and compliance, it seems equally      ing pulpwood or hardwood with a

 short enough rotation time to change        strict sense, but might be developed          a large positive impact on ecosystem
 the economics of logging in biodiverse      through the public investment in tree         restoration and upon the tourism,
 frontier or secondary forests. Like in      biotechnology. What if publicly funded        landscaping, timber and forest-product
 the lignin example, benefits would          agricultural biotechnology had pre-           industries.
 need to be regional, if not local. A        ceded the private sector’s rush to mar-             There are a wide variety of
 company may convince the public that        ket? It is easy to imagine a public more      projects under way in the public re-
 its fast growing GE tree plantation re-     receptive and a market more open to           search sector on reduced or increased
 moves its need to log on public and         genetic engineering if the first we heard     lignin content, increased cellulose con-
 private lands. If that claim was proved     of genetically engineered crops was           tent, faster growth, more uniform
 by selling or giving private forest lands   Vitamin A-enhanced rice, a sweet po-          growth, growth in marginal or arid
 to the state for public use, it would be    tato to feed Central America’s hungry,        soils, and other projects. The appar-
 that much more convincing. It will be       or a high-protein cassava that grew in        ently small investment in these projects
 hard for a forest biotechnology indus-      the depleted soils of East Africa.            and their use of the plantation species
 try to justify genetically engineered             This “public-first” scenario is still   of the developed world may not pro-
 trees in places such as New Zealand,        possible with tree biotechnology,             duce the near-term and high-impact
 Canada, Europe, or the United States        though it will require large investment       “icon” products described above that
 on claims that it relieves pressure in      and careful choice of target species and      would shape societal opinion. Other
 Russia, Indonesia, the Amazon, or           preferred traits. The first public prior-     alternatives that seem much more fan-
 Gabon. Agricultural biotechnology has       ity may be rapid reforestation of aban-       ciful in their benefit and technical re-
 revealed the different cost-benefit equa-   doned and degraded agricultural lands         alizations include engineered control of
 tions in different parts of the world. A    to create measurable benefits of soil         stress response and adaptation to allow
 fast-growing tree plantation in Asia        stabilization, watershed protection,          adaptation to climate change, produc-
 that saves adjacent forests and meets       habitat restoration, and timber produc-       tion of bio-based fuels, and trees de-
 local pulp demands is a different           tion. Fast-growing plantation trees de-       signed for carbon sequestration.
 proposition. Environmental safety is        signed for tropical zones might also be             Public sector efforts in tree bio-
 most like to be met by multiple, be-        used to create plantation buffers             technology face the same challenge as
 nign mechanisms for tree sterility and      around threatened tropical forests to         the application of agricultural biotech-
 plantations managed for biodiversity        supply pulp, timber, fuel, and forest         nology to global food needs: lack of
 and ecosystem services. In either the       products to local communities. Fast-          scientific knowledge of tropical species,
 case of reduced-lignin or fast-growth,      growing fuel woods that grow on mar-          lack of scientific and regulatory capac-
 a private company will have to meet         ginal soils might also help protect for-      ity in developing countries, diversity of
 the highest standards of environmen-        est frontiers, raise living standards, and    species and culture methods, and the
 tal safety, ethics, and transparency to     support economic development.                 concentration of R&D dollars and in-
 win the public trust.                             Another possible development            tellectual property in the private sec-
                                             that would facilitate public acceptance       tor. The research agenda today is not
                                             of genetically engineered trees would         driven by a global analysis of needs and
 HIGH IMPACT PUBLIC                          be specific disease resistance that saves     the functions of trees and forests. Cre-
                                             a tree of high environmental, eco-            ating a genetically engineered tree to
 FOREST                                      nomic, or symbolic value. In America,         deliver measurable public benefit
 BIOTECHNOLOGY                               genetic engineering for fungal resis-         would call for tens of millions of dol-
                                             tance that would allow the restoration        lars in public and private scientific in-
     A market for tree biotechnology         of the American elm and American              vestment that is guided by a deep needs
 need not be an economic market in the       chestnut to Eastern forests could have        analysis and public participation.

DESIGN FOR THE                               vention at the moment of design. The
                                             same is true of genetically engineered
                                                                                         should not be confused with product
                                                                                         prototypes or with products engineered
ENVIRONMENT                                  crops and the same will be true of ge-      for the market.
                                             netically engineered trees.
      An informal mapping performed                The agricultural biotechnology
at WRI of the environmental issues of        industry is just coming to appreciate       THE IRONY OF INPUT
genetic engineering of food crops sorts      the implications of design and the anal-
issues into those of direct impact, such     ogy of front-of-pipe designs to reduce
as human food safety, ecosystem harm,        cost and risk. Consider as an example,
animal safety, loss of genetic diversity,    that the design of Bt corn was simply             Environmental impacts, commer-
resource depletion, and unknown im-          to achieve gene expression in corn. The     cial benefit, and social acceptance are
pacts and the indirect impacts that ge-      accomplished goal of constitutive ex-       specific to the engineered trait and to
netically engineered crops may have on       pression of Bt toxin in all corn tissues,   the physical and cultural context of the
the intensification and spread of indus-     among them the corn pollen, has lead        silvicultural system. This point cannot
trialized, chemical-intensive monocul-       to the high costs of testing on pollen      be over-emphasized; the engineered
ture. At least four primary mechanisms       flow, the need for extensive refugia,       trait (i.e., the modification and its ex-
may mediate most of the direct envi-         complex grower contracts and compli-        pression in the plantation context) is
ronmental threats such as toxin pro-         ance schemes, and the persistent con-       the determinant of direct and perceived
duction, gene disruption, weed cre-          troversy of impacts on non-target lepi-     social utility. The first crop biotechnol-
ation, and genesis of new pathogens.         dopterans such as the monarch butter-       ogy products to see large-scale plant-
At the root of almost all these poten-       fly. Another example of design failure      ing all featured “input” traits. The in-
tial risks are three core issues: the con-   is the need to eliminate antibiotic re-     put traits act as production inputs or
trol of gene expression, the potential of    sistance markers and to develop alter-      work in conjunction with production
gene transfer, and the intended design       native selectable markers. These cases      inputs to the agricultural system and
of the engineered organism.                  suggest principles for design, such as      their benefits accrue to the supplier of
      Most agricultural molecular biolo-     that (1) the introduced gene should         the input and to the farmer; the mar-
gists don’t label themselves as genetic      only be specifically released into the      keted product has no new functional
engineers, and the language of engi-         environment; and (2) there be no func-      characteristics.
neering and design is not used to de-        tional open reading frames in                     Only a small volume of crops such
scribe genetically modified crops.           transformants, except the gene of in-       as soy, canola, corn (and even cotton
However, these crops are engineered          terest.                                     for fiber use) are consumed in their
products, and an engineering mindset               Had such principles guided the        pure form, and they are chiefly the
would serve the industry and society.        priorities of basic and applied research,   low-cost ingredients to value-added
Engineers have spent the last several        the risks and benefit of first-generation   food products. Farm-gate prices of
decades learning and proving that en-        biotechnology products may have been        most commodities are at historic lows
vironmental benefit is best achieved by      very different. Tree biotechnologists       in the United States, and the farmer’s
design, and that approximately 80% of        can adopt the mindset of green prod-        share of the consumer dollar spent on
the environmental impact and costs of        uct designers and use design principles     grains and vegetables is roughly $0.04–
a product is determined at the point         for environmental safety to drive their     $0.07 (National Agricultural Statistics
of design (Tischner and Charter 2001).       product development agenda and to           Service 2001). Small improvements in
The end-of-pipe solutions of scrubbers,      identify frontiers of basic research. The   farm productivity or reductions in in-
waste treatment, and toxic disposal are      transgenic trees planted to date for re-    put and labor costs are imperceptible
far more costly to society, business, and    search purposes should be recognized        to the final supermarket customer. The
the environment than pollution-pre-          as the experiments that they are and        impact of the input traits such as pest

 and herbicide tolerance have no direct        herbicide resistance in food crops has      humans. The environmental benefits
 cost benefit to the end consumer of the       not been transparently shared by the        were also not transparently communi-
 engineered crops, and it is worth cal-        sponsoring companies and has been           cated to the customers of foods that
 culating whether any input trait could        publicly questioned by critics of bio-      contain biotech-derived ingredients,
 have a direct consumer price benefit.         technology.                                 and there were charges from environ-
      For herbicide tolerance, the envi-             Third, glyphosate or Bt toxin and     mental activists of threats to nature and
 ronmental benefits are the replacement        the chemicals it replaces are produced      beneficial insects, as well as threats to
 of more toxic herbicides by glyphosate        and sold by the same set of agrochemi-      the purity of organic crops. Drawing
 and the adoption of no-till farming           cal companies and are used by the same      consumer attention to the EPA and
 methods that save labor, fuel, soil, and      customers and are all approved by the       FDA’s findings that either genetically
 water. For the Bt crops, the benefits are     same regulatory authorities who also        engineered crops or chemical pesticides
 reduced dependence upon more toxic            sell, use, and approve the genetically      can be used safely is not a consoling
 pesticides. The input traits of herbicide     engineered seeds. Drawing too much          thought to today’s consumer. Perhaps
 and pest resistance for food crops de-        attention to the chemicals and their        another incongruity in communicating
 livered little perceived social utility for   relative food and environmental safety      the benefit of genetically engineered
 their claimed impact upon the environ-        (which should be comparable when            crops was the resistance of the indus-
 ment and food safety; the reasons bear        used within approved limits) might          try to label consumer products in a
 lessons for tree biotechnology.               also draw criticism to the agrochemi-       consumer society where advantages are
      First, the general public is unaware     cal industry, the regulatory authorities,   so prominently emblazoned on prod-
 of and may not want to know the               and the farmers—a no-win situation          uct labels. A citizen logically wonders,
 quantity and nature of chemicals used         for everyone. The last reason why her-      “if this is so good for me and the envi-
 on crops in industrial agriculture or of      bicide resistance was not marketable to     ronment, why isn’t it advertised on the
 the negative impacts of modern farm-          consumers returns to the idea of            label?”
 ing. The benefit of “less herbicide”          trust—and that those who promoted                 To a world that does not perceive
 draws attention to the use of chemi-          the benefits are also those who would       trees as crops and perceives forests as
 cals and associates the consumer prod-        profit the most by selling the seed and     symbols of nature, trees that produce
 uct with chemical intensive and “non-         the herbicide. Balanced against no di-      bacterial insecticides or are made to be
 natural” farming. Although no-till            rect cost benefit and unappreciated in-     sprayed with chemicals are not likely
 farming is an important advance, com-         direct benefit are fears of environmen-     to be accepted if there are perceived
 plex environmental issues of destruc-         tal risk and human health risk. “Why        environmental risks. Transgenic trees
 tive farming, non-point source water          should I bear even remote or unknown        designed to be herbicide tolerant for
 pollution, and soil loss are distant from     risk, if others profit and I don’t ben-     the benefit of survival at the seedling
 the decisions about food purchase. The        efit?” demands the concerned con-           stage or long-term plantations of trees
 dramatic growth of the organic foods          sumer.                                      expressing Bt toxin irrespective of pest
 market is largely a testament to fears              A similar set of reasons explains     levels seem a poor starting point for the
 of the safety of foods and to a lesser        why there is no perceived direct con-       industry. The message to forest bio-
 degree, environmental concern. The            sumer benefit to the pest resistant         technologies should be very clear: com-
 creators of food brands want to asso-         traits. For the Bt toxin crops, the         mercialize output and social utility
 ciate food with a natural rather than         simple description of the crop is that      traits well before commercializing in-
 destructive image of farming. Less            it produces its own insecticide instead     put traits that might increase chemical
 harm is not as compelling an associa-         of using insecticidal chemicals—draw-       use, promote chemical use, or that
 tion as crops that deliver more societal      ing attention to the use of chemicals       draw attention to chemical use and the
 good. Second, the data on the eco-            and to the fact that the consumer may       “unnaturalness” of tree farms.
 nomic and environmental benefit of            be eating a poison, though harmless to

PRESSURES ON THE                                   This creates a conflicted context for
                                             forest biotechnology. The vision of pro-
                                                                                           term liabilities are only subject to
                                                                                           speculation. One thing is certain: that
FOREST INDUSTRY                              prietary and advanced technology and          a strategy, culture, and physical method
                                             the seductive visions of genetically engi-    for long-term product stewardship is
      Discussion of forest biotechnology     neered super-trees must be alluring to        particularly important for transgenic
often starts with “does the world need       leaders of an industry of bulldozers,         trees. All these features will raise costs
transgenic trees?” This is a very impor-     chain saws and pulp mills. Moving out         and demand skilled labor and new
tant question and may be an impor-           of contested forests and into privately       management methods. Thus, a
tant guide for public sector research        owned plantations must also be attrac-        transgenic tree needs a new public ori-
and development. More immediately,           tive. At the same time, product devel-        entation to trees as crops, new science,
the question might be, “does industry        opment costs and regulatory costs and         new regulatory systems, and new man-
want transgenic trees?” Agricultural         the visions of anti-biotechnology protest-    agement practices in the industry for
biotechnology has shown that when            ers destroying test plots of trees and at-    product development, product stew-
there is a powerful economic motiva-         tacking company CEOs must make the            ardship, and plantation management.
tion for industry, the genetically engi-     same business leaders distinctly queasy.      Each of these changes lowers the prob-
neered products will be developed. The                                                     ability that the companies at the front
strong financial push and pull on                                                          of the learning curve will profitably
Monsanto from their huge investments         NEW CAPABILITIES                              execute product introduction.
in seed companies and rising valuation                                                           The Role of Scientists
on Wall Street was a powerful accelera-      AND CULTURE                                         Besides the external pressures on
tor for GM crop introduction and cre-                                                      the industry and the need for new ca-
ated a competitive environment that               The movement into genetically            pabilities, the scientific community it-
demanded a similar response from             engineered trees also calls for a signifi-    self facilitates and confounds good de-
Monsanto’s agrochemical rivals, includ-      cant cultural and technical change in         cision-making by the industry. Biotech-
ing Dow, DuPont, Aventis, and                the industry. For the agrochemical/           nology has been science-driven, as new
Novartis (now Syngenta).                     pharmaceutical giants, the technology         discoveries seek applications and eco-
      A crude snapshot of the forest prod-   and regulatory processes of genetic en-       nomic value. In areas of biology less
uct industry (timber, pulp, and paper)       gineering were not entirely new, and          funded than human biomedicine, ge-
shows an industry under regulatory pres-     played to their competitive strengths.        netic engineering raises the possibility
sure, rising competition from global         The molecular biology, ecological test-       of increased funding, scientific interest,
competitors and an industry that is striv-   ing, compliance issues, intellectual          and the potential for riches to scien-
ing for modernization, value-added           property strategy, and regulatory pro-        tists, investors, and research institutions
products, and an improved reputation.        cesses to commercialize a transgenic          from patents and new biotechnology
The public pressure from activist orga-      tree are not part of the traditional and      companies (Smith et al. 1999). For sci-
nizations on both ends of the value          current capabilities of the forest prod-      entists who have spent lifetimes study-
chain, from the logging companies, to        uct industry.                                 ing forest and tree biology, genetic en-
paper mills, to the do-it-yourself chains         The first transgenic tree planta-        gineering is a powerful tool to unlock
has been great. The result of that pres-     tions will have measures for biological       scientific mysteries. Enthusiasm for the
sure is unprecedented demand for prod-       and physical containment, intensive           science and technology is real and un-
ucts from certified forests and a direc-     ecological monitoring protocols, and          derstandable in the world of science.
tive for the industry to transform itself    fences or barriers for economic and           Whether the motivation of scientists is
from one of the last extractive industries   physical protection. The long-term            the purest interest in discovery, a genu-
to a sustainable industry based on renew-    impacts of transgenic plants are un-          ine hope for sustainable technologies,
able resources.                              known and thus the potential long-            or the desire for recognition and fund-

                                                    tives of civil society that might have       neered products. Patents are credited
 Table 1. The possible pitfalls of forest
                                                    guided product design and introduc-          with being the foundation of the phar-
                                                    tion. Today, the agricultural biotech-       maceutical industry and with creating
 •   Lack of expertise that bridges sectoral        nology companies have put in place           the conditions for the birth of the bio-
     gaps and interdisciplinary gaps
                                                    high-level stakeholder advisory boards       technology industry; the patent race
 •   Lack of analysis of global or local needs
                                                    from diverse societal arenas, though it      accompanying the human genome ef-
 •   Seeking public trust upon altruistic           is too early tell how those boards are       forts reflects their continued impor-
     claims of distant environmental benefits
                                                    impacting company action.3                   tance to the industry (Regaldo 2000).
 •   Failure to engage stakeholders in
                                                          One still hears the mantra of          Intellectual property has also been one
     product and field trial design
                                                    ‘sound science’ repeated in debates on       of the most contentious issues in the
 •   Failure to create public-private
     partnerships                                   biotechnology and the implication that       opposition to biotechnology for the
 •   Commercial pressure to go to market            if only the public understood the science,   validity of patenting life forms, the use
     too early                                      the products of biotechnology would be       of patents for economic control and
 •   Regulatory costs create pressures for          embraced. Sound science does not shape       competitive advantage, and the patent-
     unethical practices                            the marketplace and is low on the list of    ing of species considered to be in the
 •   Imitation of agricultural products; the lure   the basis of consumer choice. Fears, de-     public domain and natural patrimony
     of easy input traits                           sires, and price shape consumer accep-       of developed countries. Although the
 •   Science-driven choices rather than             tance, and this is obvious from the cars     value of patents is a common assump-
                                                    we drive, vitamins we take, clothes we       tion, there is also an analytic literature
 •   Over-valuation of patents                      wear, foods we eat, and the risks we bear    to suggest that patents are often over-
 •   Long-term liability and stewardship            for pleasure and convenience. The pri-       valued, do not create strong competi-
                                                    orities for genetically engineered trees     tive barriers, and have lower economic
                                                    should not be guided solely by ‘sound        value and strategic utility than is often
 ing, there is a powerful confluence of             science’ and scientists. The pressures on    assumed (Mazzoleni and Nelson 1998;
 reasons to be excited and to promote
                                                    industry and the motivations of scientists   Cohen et al. 2000).
 genetic engineering of trees.                      in regulated and in less-regulated emerg-          A tree biotechnology initiative will
      The basic scientists at the fore-             ing economies create a force for the de-     have to deal with the large suite of pat-
 front of exploring genetic engineering
                                                    velopment of transgenic trees, and scien-    ents on molecular methods and genes
 of trees are the scientists sought as ad-          tists can be inspired to serve society and   likely to be used to create a transgenic
 visors and collaborators for the com-              be held accountable if other sectors of      tree. But should tree technologists seek
 panies exploring the possible commer-
                                                    society become engaged in this issue.        to patent engineered species and their
 cialization of genetically engineered                                                           underlying technology? If genetically
 trees. This was also the case for crop                                                          engineered trees are owned by the same
 biotechnology; so why was industry                 THE ROLE OF                                  companies that will grow and process
 totally unprepared to address and re-
 solve so many environmental and so-                INTELLECTUAL                                 the trees, do they need the same pro-
                                                                                                 tection as seeds for crops that may pass
 cial issues? The reasons are the belief            PROPERTY                                     through a complex value chain? Are the
 system of “sound science” and the ab-                                                           costs of the patents in direct terms and
 sence of other scientific and social sci-              Intellectual property often as-          in potential societal opposition justified
 ence viewpoints. The molecular biolo-              sumes a central role in the strategies for   when weighed against the extremely
 gists and the corporate strategists                the development of genetically engi-         long life-cycle of trees, the ease with
 thought that the other party had a                                                              which ownership may be established
 handle on the potential risks of the
                                                                                                 and protected, the rapid development
 products. Missing from the implemen-                The author is a member of Monsanto’s
                                                    Biotechnology Advisory Council.              of new technologies, and other means
 tation were ecologists and representa-

to protect property? The case for pat-            themselves. The companies sponsoring         tree plantation may not seem much
enting trees is not obvious, merits               research and development in geneti-          more unnatural than just the planta-
analysis, and may be a weak and in-               cally engineered trees are forest land-      tion itself, and the view of genetically
correct strategic assumption.                     owners and timber product companies;         engineered trees may be different if it
                                                  the understanding of industry needs          occurs as part of a gradual and envi-
                                                  that guides R&D originates in the in-        ronmentally responsible transition to
C  OMPARISON OF                                   dustry itself. Though it is not yet clear,   tree plantations.
                                                  there seems to be no explicit interest            The forest product industry does
F  OREST VS        .A -   G                       in the export and sale of transgenic         not have the benign image of farming;
B                 I
   IOTECH NDUSTRIES                               seedlings, though the high cost of           it may be possible to sell plantations
                                                  product development will probably            and engineered trees for doing “less
       This essay has explored the analo- create the pressure for exactly such a               harm” than logging in natural or pub-
gies between genetically engineered value capture strategy. The molecular                      lic forests. ‘Naturalness’ is not a con-
trees and crops and the system that has biologists involved in engineering trees               sumer value of most timber and forest
produced commercial products with a were first trained as tree and forest bi-                  products; we do not seek a natural
central thesis that the forest industry ologists, and may be more likely to                    quality to our lumber or copy paper as
can learn a great deal from crop consider the wild and managed biologi-                        we do to a piece of corn, a vegetable,
biotechnology’s failings. There are, cal context and complex forest system                     or fruit. This is shown by the relative
however, important differences be- than their crop science colleagues.                         objections to genetically engineered
tween the two industries, and some                     The forest industry is already un-      cotton in contrast to genetically engi-
that may help prevent repetition of the dergoing significant change and mod-                   neered corn or genetically engineered
same mistakes (Table 2). First is that ernization, and genetic engineering,                    wheat. Cotton is also the one crop
the technologists are the customers rather than catalyzing disruptive                          where there is the clearest data that
                                                  change—as it did for the old chemical        shows lowered use of harmful chemi-
                                                         and drug companies—exists in          cals on the industrial cotton crop (Car-
Table 2. Key differences of fiber vs. food biotech-      the context of other changes to-      penter and Gianessi 2001). An average
nology industries.                                       ward greater environmental and        consumer may fidget a moment to
• The leading technologists are the customers of         social responsibility. The nega-      think that their jeans or underwear
    the product.                                         tive ecological impacts of the        contain cotton from genetically engi-
• No agri-chemical industry equivalent; less             timber and pulp industry are al-      neered plants, but the response is less
    financial pressure.
                                                         ready recognized; they make up        visceral than the discovery that their
• Limited intention of exporting and selling genetic
    stocks.                                              a powerful story in the public        breakfast or lunch contains ingredients
• Understanding of needs originates in the               mind. It may take a while for         derived from genetically engineered
    industry.                                            people to see trees as crops, but     crops.
• The scientists are tree- and forest biologists
                                                         the acceptance of plantations is           The fiber system is simpler than
    with systems approaches.
• Industry is already undergoing change.                 underway. The tree industry           the food system, since transgenic trees
• Ecological damage of the forest industry is            does not have the legacy of in-       may be developed by their primary
    recognized.                                          frastructure and planting prac-       harvesters and processors. There are
• Transition to plantations is underway.                 tices as crops, and there may be      fewer players, fewer products, fewer
• Long timeframes in tree science and business.
                                                         some chance of a biodiverse and       species and culture methods, and sim-
• Naturalness is not a quality of paper and timber.
• Fiber system is simpler and more public than           ‘eco-silvicultural’ practice devel-   pler value chains. This simplicity may
    the food system.                                     oping with lower barriers, rather     make it easier to design products and
• Fiber is less contentious than food.                   than changing agriculture to a        develop value chain relationships with
• Forests and trees have high symbolic value.            different model. A transgenic         more aligned interests than the current

 path of genetically engineered seeds                 Balanced against all these com-        development, conversion to agricul-
 from biotechnology company, to                 parisons that make commercialization         tural lands, ore and oil extraction, over-
 farmer, to processors, to traders, to          of acceptable genetically engineered         hunting and over-logging, global cli-
 food companies, to supermarkets, and           trees more probable, is the symbolic         mate change, and destruction of water
 to consumers and restaurants.                  value of forests and trees. A treatment      resources. Billions of people in the
      Time may also be on the side of           of the symbolic history and value of         world have pressing needs for energy,
 genetically engineered trees. The              trees and forests and is beyond the          paper, and materials that are needed
 mindset of the forest product industry         scope of this essay. The American bio-       features of economic development,
 is much longer than that of the crop           technology companies underestimated          improved health, literacy, and com-
 industry, which is based in annual             the cultural symbolism and importance        merce. And forests play central roles in
 cycles, and it is normal for forest com-       of agriculture in Europe, and biotech-       protecting watersheds, purifying air
 panies to think in 5-, 10-, and 20-year        nology activists underestimated the          and water, stabilizing climate, protect-
 time frames. The slow growth of trees          desire many developing countries have        ing species diversity, offering cultural
 ensures there will be no fast product          to use biotechnology or to self-deter-       and spiritual value, and supporting
 introduction; and delays of a year to          mine their own technological choices.        tourism and recreation. In a world
 get the best transformant or to choose         Timber product companies may be in           whose population is due to grow by a
 a proper genetic background will have          for a shock at how the public feels          third in the next 25 years (and chiefly
 less of an impact on the rate of tree          about its trees, especially if the geneti-   in less-developed countries), imagina-
 commercialization. Tree scientists are         cally engineered tree does not directly      tive solutions with a place for technol-
 also a patient lot. There is no time or        connect to the protection and renewal        ogy will be needed to meet global
 financial pressure from the public mar-        of forests. The typical public opinion       needs for water, materials, energy, and
 kets on the industry to meet or exploit        survey sponsored by the biotechnology        paper. This will require keeping sight
 the promises of the technology in any          industry asks about possible acceptance      of the sustainable forestry goals beyond
 near time frame.                               of benefits and not, “Would you like a       the transgenic trees.
                                                         plantation of genetically engi-          This author has never seen a deep
 Table 3. Framework conditions for a GE tree market.     neered trees in your back-          analysis of the role of tree biotechnol-
                                                         yard?” Still, the framework         ogy that considers the values that for-
 • Social utility is the foremost concern.
                                                         conditions for a market for         ests and trees deliver, in the context of
 • Design for the environment is of highest priority.
                                                         transgenic trees are fairly clear   specific nations, social values, regula-
 • Business motives and plans are transparent.
 • Business communications and actions are aligned       and conceivable when ab-            tory structures, and economic sce-
    with investments.                                    stracted from our experience        narios. We cannot question the utility
 • Stakeholders are engaged in decision-making.          with genetically engineered         of genetically engineered trees without
 • Private and public investment are balanced.           crops (Table 3).                    a serious question of “compared to
 •   Research in ecological impacts of transgenic tree                                       what?” There is opportunity to develop
     plantations.                                                                            sustainable silviculture that is part of
 •   Value capture and business strategy is not based    THE QUALITY OF                      integrated management of productive
     in patents.
 •   The first developed traits are output traits.       OUR ANSWERS                         forests, working landscapes, and pro-
                                                                                             tected forests to maximize ecosystem
 •   Stakeholders that perceive risks can make
     choices and perceive benefits.
                                                         DEPENDS ON THE                      goods and services for all human uses.
 •   Target markets have appropriate regulatory          IMAGINATION OF                      Tree plantations do not have the legacy
     capacity.                                                                               of crop agriculture, such as a history
 •   Region-specific products are developed.             OUR QUESTIONS                       of monoculture or a system of produc-
 •   Technology is applied to serve needy populations                                        tion and production inputs, and they
     and protect biodiversity.                                The world’s most biodi-
                                                                                             might be designed for biodiversity.
                                                         verse forests are threatened by

      During the next five years, the       Lenzner, R, T. Kellner. 2000. Corpo-
public and private sector will make             rate Saboteurs: They wrecked
                                                Monsanto, now they’re after the
critical decisions about investment in
                                                U.S. drug industry. Is your com-
genetically engineered trees. Risk or           pany next? In Forbes, pp. 156–168.
benefit is not intrinsic to genetic engi-
                                            Mazzoleni, R, RR Nelson.1998. Eco-
neering. The experience with the ge-
                                               nomic theories about the benefits
netic engineering of crops has proved          and costs of patents. Journal of Eco-
that cultural, environmental, and eco-         nomic Issues 32: 1031–1052.
nomic risks and benefits are each con-
                                            National Agricultural Statistics Service.
ceivable and are each achievable with           2001. Agricultural Prices. U.S. De-
genetic engineering. Tree biotechnol-           partment of Agriculture.
ogy has not yet crossed the proof-of-
                                            Regaldo, A. 2000. The Great Gene
concept threshold for either risk or            Grab. Technology Review 49–67.
benefit, and the traits and species to be
                                            Sampson, V, L. Lohmann. 2000. Brief-
chosen for commercial modification
                                               ing 21 - Genetic Dialectic: The Bio-
remain uncertain. Whether and how              logical Politics of Genetically Modi-
genetic engineering can equitably and          fied Trees. Corner House, London.
safely serve the needs of sustainable
                                            Seuss, TG. 1971. The Lorax. Random
development remains to be seen. We              House, New York. 62 p.
can make wise choices as citizens, sci-
                                            Smith, KR, N Ballenger, K Day-
entists, and businesspeople about how
                                               Rubenstein, P Heisey, C Klotz-
to develop the technology, with what           Ingram. 1999. Biotechnology re-
safeguards and to what ends. The               search: Weighing the options for a
thoughtful, creative, and rigorous con-        new public-private balance. Agri-
sideration of this question should be          cultural Outlook October: 22–25.
limited only by our knowledge in the        Tischner, U, M Charter. 2001. Sustain-
moment and not by the imagination               able Product Design. In Sustainable
and courage to envision and realize fair        Solutions: Developing products and
processes, shared benefits, and a sus-          services for the future, ed. U
                                                Tischner and M Charter. Greenleaf
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