26 Aug 2010

GM pine trees part of proposed field trials

8:22 am on 26 August 2010

Pine trees that have been genetically modified to grow faster and be more disease resistant are included in a new series of field trials proposed by forestry researcher Scion.

The crown research institute has applied to the Environmental Risk Management Authority to conduct the trials over 25 years at a contained four hectare site in Rotorua.

It is working in partnership with American-based forestry research and production company ArborGen.

The Scion scientist leading the project Dr Chris Walter says it will be on a larger scale than the institute's previous trial.

He says that trial found genetically modified trees posed no environmental risks.

Dr Walter says none of the trees will be allowed to reach a stage where they can release pollen or seed.

The Soil and Health Association raised concerns about the way Scion conducted the earlier trial and says it will be opposing this one as well.

Spokesperson Steffan Browning says one of the main concerns is that the technology is ultimately intended for commercialisation.

He says that would be in contrast to the clean, green image that the New Zealand economy is based on.

ERMA is calling for public submissions on the proposal.