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| Today's Featured Article: Fighting pollution the poplar way: Trees to clean up Indiana site Tuesday, January 22 2008 @ 11:37 AM EST - Contributed by: Admin | Views::1,832
January 10, 2008
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.
Purdue University researchers are collaborating with Chrysler LLC in a project to use poplar trees to eliminate pollutants from a contaminated site in north-central Indiana.
The researchers plan to plant transgenic poplars at the site, a former oil storage facility near Kokomo, Ind., this summer. In a laboratory setting, the transgenic trees have been shown to be capable of absorbing trichloroethylene, or TCE, and other pollutants before processing them into harmless byproducts.
Richard Meilan, a Purdue associate professor, is currently at work to transform one variety of poplar suited to Indiana's climate; cold-hardy poplars are generally more difficult to alter than the variety used in a laboratory setting.
"This site presents the perfect opportunity to prove that poplars can get rid of pollution in the real world," Meilan said.
In a study Meilan co-authored, published last October in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, poplar cuttings removed 90 percent of the TCE within a hydroponic solution in one week. The engineered trees also took up and metabolized the chemical 100 times faster than unaltered hybrid poplars, which have a limited ability to remove and degrade the contaminant on their own, he said.
The transgenic poplars contain an inserted gene that encodes an enzyme capable of breaking down TCE and a variety of other environmental pollutants, including chloroform, benzene, vinyl chloride and carbon tetrachloride.
Police investigate GE field trial security breach Thursday, January 17 2008 @ 01:17 PM EST - Contributed by: Admin | Views::1,243 http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/latest/200801160751/police_investigate_ge
Rotorua police are investigating after a perimeter fence around a field
trial of genetically modified trees was breached.
Some 19 trees were damaged during the incident.
Crown research institute, Scion, has been studying how 80 Radiata pine
and Norway spruce trees reproduce.
The police say the intruder appears to have dug under the fence. A spade
bearing a 'GE Free New Zealand' sticker was left behind.
Scion says it will review the incident and look at whether the intruder
could have removed any genetically modified material.
Lobby group, the Soil and Health Association, has been calling for the
trees to be cut down.
Spokesperson Steffan Browning says it hopes the breach will prompt Scion
to improve security around the fence.
"I struggle to disagree with the motives of whoever has done whatever it
is. It does depend on what they've actually done and how responsible
they've been with any material."
Copyright C 2008 Radio New Zealand
Trees by design Thursday, January 17 2008 @ 01:15 PM EST - Contributed by: Admin | Views::1,612 http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2007/12/23/trees_by_design/
What happens when genetic engineering comes to the forest?
The debate over transgenic trees has been simmering among devotees of the once-mighty American chestnut. December 23, 2007
IF EVER THERE was a tree that has inspired devotion, it's the American chestnut, once one of the most common trees in East Coast forests. Thoreau considered it among the "noblest" trees he encountered in his walks through the Lincoln woods, while settlers in the southern Appalachians found the nuts and timber such valuable allies in their struggle to survive that the tree became a regional icon. When an imported plague, the chestnut blight, all but eradicated the tree in the early 20th century, people mourned from Georgia to Maine.
Since that time, ardent fans have struggled to pull the chestnut back from the brink. Most of their efforts have relied on old-fashioned breeding techniques - investing the tree with blight-resistance genes from other species of chestnut through the laborious and lengthy process of hand-fertilizing flowers, planting the resulting seeds, cultivating trees, and culling inferior specimens. And then doing it all over again. But a pair of forestry scientists at the State University of New York in Syracuse are now exploring a different idea: that genes from other plants, and even from animals, might provide the chestnut with completely new weapons to thrive again in the Eastern forests.
The technology they are using is the genetic engineering that has transformed medicine and agriculture - and triggered intense controversies - over the last three decades. But now it is being applied to trees, raising new possibilities for industry and conservation, as well as new kinds of environmental safety concerns.
Advocates of forest biotechnology say that with a few snips and tucks of the molecular scissors and tweezers, it may be possible to quickly, and even radically, revise the way a tree grows. Scientists could create a tree that repels bugs, resists weed-killers, or better weathers winter freezes. They could change the composition of wood, manipulating the levels of lignin, the cellular glue that holds wood fibers together, in order to fashion the tree of a lumberman's or a paper manufacturer's dreams. They could solve pressing environmental problems with designer trees that can pull toxic chemicals from the soil, suck greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, or serve as a source of green energy. Or, perhaps most sensationally of all, they could save trees that face extinction.
But modifying the genes of trees also poses special threats. The concerns environmentalists have raised about traditional agriculture - that genes will "leak" into the wild, with unknown and irreversible consequences - are magnified with trees. Unlike engineered corn or soybeans, a genetically altered tree could live for decades, if not centuries. And trees are far hardier and better able to survive in the wild than most crops. If seeds or pollen from a genetically modified poplar escaped, they could grow and spread the new gene, as well as contaminate natural poplars in the forest. Wildlife, insects, and other plants in the forest ecosystem could be affected as well.
BIOTECH FORESTRY SUGGESTS GENETICALLY ENGINEERED TREES Thursday, January 17 2008 @ 01:13 PM EST - Contributed by: Admin | Views::1,819
MANILA, 1 December 2007 - Whether we like it or not, genetically modified forestry will come to the Philippines.
Abraham Manalo, executive secretary of Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP), made this prediction in a seminar on forestry biotechnology held at the Bureau of Plant Industry in Quezon City on Wednesday.
He urged the country to be ready for such an eventuality. The need for genetically engineered trees is forthcoming because the present forest condition is in bad shape. This is a quick response to mitigate climate change, secure water reserve, develop livelihood for Filipinos, conserve biodiversity and produce biofuels, among others, he said.
In a paper presented in the forum, Dr. Saturnina Halos, BCP director for research, debunked the present fears on GMOs saying that forest modification is safe based on experiments that have been conducted. Some countries, notably, the United States, Papua New Guinea and Australia are already into genetic engineering of trees.
Scientists choose the traits that are beneficial such as insect- and disease-resistance of trees. Examples of popular trees mostly planted under experimental conditions are the falcata, gubas, narra and gemelina.
Halos likewise said that possible adverse consequences of modified forestry can be controlled. Negative consequences only happen during hybridizing of trees and where genes spread in natural selection.
"People's fear of new species of trees thriving and other trees dying as a result can be resolved if the forester will not use native species," she stressed.
Likewise, fear that the use of Bt resistant trees may promote the development of resistant insects after sometime is baseless, Halos noted. She compared this with the use of Bt pesticides that have been in use for 40 years now. After rampant use of Bt pesticide, a new species of pesticide-resistant insects developed.
First commercial plant in U.S. to produce liquid biofuel from wood Thursday, January 17 2008 @ 01:11 PM EST - Contributed by: Admin | Views::1,683 http://www.checkbiotech.org/green_News_Biofuels.aspx?infoId=16350
December 5, 2007
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation, and
its subsidiary, Dynamotive USA, Inc., announced its plans to invest US$24
million to build the first fully commercial industrial biofuel plant in
The facility will be located on a site in Willow Springs, approximately
180 miles southwest of St. Louis. The site secured was chosen for its
ready access to rail transport, proximity to biomass and the potential to
host up to four additional facilities.
The modular, second-generation biomass-to-biofuel plant is designed to use
Dynamotive‚s proprietary „fast pyrolysis‰ process to convert 200 tons per
day of wood by-products and residues from nearby sawmills into 34,000
gallons per day of BioOil®. Commercial terms have been agreed and signed
with local feedstock providers to supply the plant.
Development and construction of the plant will be implemented by
Dynamotive‚s U.S. management, supported by Dynamotive‚s engineering team
and its partners. Opportunities exist for a significant expansion of
Dynamotive‚s operations, with more than 1.1 million dry long tons of
biomass per year in Missouri alone. As a result, other, similar projects
in the state are currently under review. The BioOil produced at the Willow
Springs complex is expected to be sold to commercial and industrial users
in the region through a major local distributor of renewable fuels.
Scientists develop low-lignin eucalyptus trees Thursday, January 17 2008 @ 01:08 PM EST - Contributed by: Admin | Views::1,687 http://www.checkbiotech.org/green_News_Biofuels.aspx?Name=biofuels&infoId=16300
November 30, 2007
(Biopact) - A team of Taiwanese and U.S. scientists has succeeded in developing eucalyptus trees capable of ingesting up to three times more carbon dioxide than normal strains, indicating a new path to reducing greenhouse gases and global warming. The new trees also have properties that make them more suitable for the production of cellulosic ethanol.
In this sense, they can be seen as part of third-generation biofuels. This generation is based on crops modified in such a way that they allow the application of a particular bioconversion technology. Analyses show that there is a very large potential for the production of sustainable biomass from Eucalyptus in Central Africa and South America.
Under the auspices of Taiwan's National Science Council, staff members at the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute (TFRI) under the cabinet-level Council of Agriculture and North Carolina State University in the United States carried out the gene modification project that not only creates eucalyptus with a higher than normal CO2 absorptive capacity, but also causes them to produce less lignin and more cellulose.
TFRI researcher Chen Zenn-zong explained that cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin in trees are all created from carbon elements. However, only cellulose can be used in commercial processes of pulp manufacturing and bio-ethanol extraction. Lignin is the 'glue' that holds cellulose together. Breaking down the lignin barrier is a major obstacle for the production of cellulosic ethanol.
Through Genetics, Tapping a Tree's Potential as a Source of Energy Thursday, January 17 2008 @ 01:05 PM EST - Contributed by: Admin | Views::1,615
The New York Times November 20, 2007
By ANDREW POLLACK
It might be true that "only God can make a tree," as the poet Joyce Kilmer wrote. But genetic engineers can fundamentally redesign them.
Aiming to turn trees into new energy sources, scientists are using a controversial genetic engineering process to change the composition of the wood. A major goal is to reduce the amount of lignin, a chemical compound that interferes with efforts to turn the tree's cellulose into biofuels like ethanol.
Vincent L. Chiang, co-director of the forest biotechnology group at North Carolina State University, has developed transgenic trees with as little as half the lignin of their natural counterparts. "I think the transgenic tree with low lignin will contribute significantly to energy needs," he said.
Environmentalists say such work can be risky, because lignin provides trees with structural stiffness and resistance to pests. Even some scientists working on altering wood composition acknowledge that reducing lignin too much could lead to wobbly, vulnerable trees.
"Nature would have selected for lower-lignin trees if they could survive," said Shawn Mansfield, associate professor of wood science at the University of British Columbia.
People working in the field also acknowledge that they will face resistance from others who see trees as majestic symbols of pristine nature that should not be genetically altered like corn and soybeans.
CLIMATE CHANGE MINISTERIAL IN BOGOR: INDONESIAN NGOS CALL FOR DEVELOPMENT PATHWAY AND FAIR BURDEN SHARING Thursday, January 17 2008 @ 12:59 PM EST - Contributed by: Admin | Views::1,756
TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Oct07/01)
26 October 2007
Third World Network
A Ministerial meeting for several countries was held in Bogor, Indonesia, on 24-26 October as a preparation for the Bali meetings of the UN Convention on Climate Change in December.
30 Indonesian environment and development groups issued a statement to the Ministers at the Bogor meeting. The statement was read out to the Ministers at the meeting.
The joint NGO statement stressed their concerns on "climate justice" and the need for the Bali meeting to adopt principles based on fair burden sharing as between North and South. It also called for more clarity on "development pathways" that must be linked to mitigation, and for coherent global economic policies to enable climate-friendly policies to be implemented.
The following is the statement.
Modified Forests Could Severely Impact Natural Land Thursday, January 17 2008 @ 12:56 PM EST - Contributed by: Admin | Views::1,518
By: Josh Grenzsund, Columnist
Oregon Daily Emerald, 24 October 2007
Oregon has a growing self-perception, and reputation, as being a leader in
the local and natural food craze. While "local" may be easy to define, it is
harder to define what we mean when we say "natural."
A lot of the anxiety behind consumers' demands for "natural" foods comes
from fear of the unknown. Will genetically engineered organisms spread their
modified genes to their formerly "wild" counterparts and irrevocably alter
the "natural" world? Maybe it's already happened. According to an article
from Capital Press, "The West's Agricultural Web Site," there are as many as
four million genetically improved Douglas Fir "super trees" growing in about
790 test plots in Washington and Oregon.
Trees With Rabbit Genes Accelerate Cleaning of Soil Thursday, January 17 2008 @ 12:52 PM EST - Contributed by: Admin | Views::1,667
Jha, science correspondent
Tuesday October 16 2007
By Alok Jha
Genetically modified plants that can break down pollutants may be an effective way to clean soil contaminated by industrial chemicals and explosives used by the military, according to scientists.
Tests on six-inch tall GM poplar cuttings which had a gene from a rabbit inserted into them showed that they could remove up to 91% of a chemical called trichloroethylene from the water used in their feed. This chemical, used as an industrial degreaser and one of the most common contaminants of ground water, was broken down by the plants into harmless byproducts more than 100 times faster than by unaltered plants.
"In view of their large size and extensive root systems, these transgenic poplars may provide the means to effectively clean sites contaminated with a variety of pollutants at much faster rates and at lower costs than can be achieved with current conventional techniques," wrote Sharon Doty, of the University of Washington, Seattle, yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
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