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CNR: Alamanacco della Scienza


N. 2 - 1 feb 2012
ISSN 2037-4801

International info   a cura di Cecilia Migali


Transgenic tree biosafety: which future in Europe?

Evaluating and substantiating scientific data relevant to the biosafety of Gm trees. This is the main objective of the Cost Action FP0905, one of the top Eu actions in terms of number of participating Eu and non-Eu countries. The characteristics of this collaboration are now explained in a correspondence just published in 'Nature Biotechnology'.

"This is the first Cost action on Gm trees." says Cristina Vettori, chair of the cooperation and researcher at Cnr-Plant Genetics Institute (Igv). "It is relevant and innovative, especially in the context of the existing debate in Europe on cultivation and commercialization of Gm plants, given the increasing role that engineered crops and trees are seen to have in mitigating climate change and environmental phytoremediation.  A wide exchange of scientific knowledge has now been initiatedand and it provides a unique opportunity to develop a common scientific baseline for biosafety research and development of engineered trees".

The Cost Action FP0905 has been accepted by 26 Eu countries participating in Cost, one neighbor country, four non-Cost countries with reciprocal agreement with Cost, and three non-Cost countries, for four years starting April 12, 2010 (www.cost-action-fp0905.eu). In the past year, additional Cost countries from Latin America and Asia, and one international organization have expressed interest in joining this Cost Action.

"As a novel discussion forum", adds Matthias Fladung, vice-chair of the cooperation and researcher at the Johann Heinrich von Thuenen Institute (vTI), Grosshansdorf, Germany, "the Action will contribute to the scientific basis underlying future Eu policy, regulation and safety assessment of Gm trees. This is of particular importance, as most of the consensus documents on biosafety issues and approvals of transgenic organisms have been made for crop plants, but not for forest trees".

The Action will also aim at the improving or developing of novel tree genotypes for the worldwide increasing demand for fuel, fiber and energy. "The ideal tree would be one that has a high biomass yield, grows easily in variable climate conditions and does not require high amounts of water, nutrients or aid to protect the trees' growth", conclude Cristina Vettori and Matthias Fladung. "Gene technology may offer the opportunity to reach some of these desired characteristics substantially faster than conventional tree breeding. The long-generation time for trees makes conventional crossing particularly impractical. Newly developed traits can also include increased pest resistance and improved post-harvest characteristics of biomass, biofuel and processability".


Fonte: Cristina Vettori, Istituto di bioscienze e biorisorse del Cnr, tel. 055/5225728, email cristina.vettori@cnr.it