Criteria: GMO Trees
Data Source: FSC National Risk Assessment (NRA) Specified Risk
Last Updated: February 2019
WHY IS GMO TREES?
A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) refers to an organism whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified through genetic engineering.1,2 In a Genetically Modified (GM) Tree, traits associated with improved pest or disease resistance, herbicide, frost or drought tolerance, lignin changes, etc. may be added. And while these changes sound promising, there are concerns and uncertainties associated with their commercial use. One of the scientific community’s biggest concerns is that GM Tree species could ‘escape’’ to a nearby non GM ecosystem (where the potential for transfer of genetic material [ reproduction] with non-GM trees is high). Our limited ability to predict and understand the potential environmental and socio-economic implications of GM Trees means that there is not currently widespread adoption or regulatory approval.
This criterion helps our members understand the risk of commercial GMO tree use in the continental United States.
This criterion indicates the risk of genetically modified [organisms] (GMO) trees being harvested and entering supply streams. According to Forest Stewardship Council‘s (FSC) National Risk Assessment (NRA), risk for use of GMO trees was identified as “low” across the continental United States. The NRA indicates that, at the time of its compilation, GMO trees are not used commercially in the contiguous United States (excludes Alaska and Hawaii). However, if in the future, if GMO trees are approved for commercial use this criterion’s risk designations may change. For more information about this designation, refer to the full US NRA.
|LOWER RISK||MEDIUM RISK||HIGHER RISK|
|GMO Trees||An FSC-conducted National Risk Assessment concluded there is low risk of commercial GMO tree use in the contiguous United States.||N/A||N/A|
The GMO Trees criterion uses data and results from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) National Risk Assessment (NRA) for the contiguous United States. The FSC is an independent, non-profit organization that sets standards under which forests and companies are certified. The National Risk Assessment (NRA) was limited to the contiguous United States, included a public comment period, and contains considerations of legal frameworks, approvals for use and evidence of illegal use and GMO use in U.S. forestry, among other factors. A detailed description of the analysis is available by reviewing the FSC NRA.
POSSIBLE DATA AND ANALYSIS LIMITATIONS
The FSC Centralized National Risk Assessment (NRA) is a coarse level, national scale analysis of risk applying only to the contiguous United States. As such, critical local factors may not be fully assessed.
1 National Geographic. Genetically Modified Organisms.
2 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Agricultural Biotechnology Glossary.