GM Sitka Spruce

Norman Hall-Gardiner Hallgardiner at
Sat Mar 20 04:19:55 EST 1999

>I was fairly neutral on the idea of GM foods until I was interested
>enough to read a few articles and now I think I will stick to old
>fashioned organic veggies.
>I am not sure what the perceived nature of the threat from Sitka is
>Graham Willers

Hi, Graham,

Rather a strange one, this. Seeing as we don't actually eat Sitka, what are
the dangers of GM? And what would they try to modify out? Branching habit?
Susceptibility to Green Spruce aphid attack? Heather check?

As you know, there has for many years been a selective breeding programme,
resulting in 'Super Sitka'. There is no doubt that the Sitka I plant these
days is far superior to, say, twenty years ago.

I get the impression that you are a fan of natural regeneration, where there
is no genetic improvement, so GM doesn't enter into it. Frankly, I can't see
any major benefits in GM trees in our situation. Perhaps Monsanto could make
them resistant to Roundup, so we wouldn't have to be so careful when
spraying. But with the state British forestry is in at the moment, there
just isn't the impetus to justify it. What's the point of improving our
growth rates or whatever, when we are competing with countries that pay
their labour £UK2 a day, and will export at any price just to get foreign

I may be old-fashioned, but I would far rather see forestry prosper, both in
commercial and environmental terms, on the back of good silviculture, and
keep the genetic modifiers out of it.



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