According to the FAO (2004), "A regulatory framework to govern research and application of genetically modified forest trees on a case-by-case basis is essential. The issue goes beyond the country level, since pollen flow and seed dispersal do not take account of national boundaries, and since wood is a global commodity." Thus an international framework to assess the safety of GM trees before their environmental release is necessary. The FAO adds, “… it is very important that environmental risk assessment studies are conducted with protocols and methodologies agreed upon at national and international levels. It is also important that the results of such research are made widely available.”
The available literature on risk assessment of GM trees is quite limited. Much of the published work is focused on the research and development and trait improvement aspects rather than risk assessment. Some selected literature related to risk assessment is highlighted here (obtained from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) ‘Biosafety Database’) (http://www.icgeb.org/~bsafesrv/db/biosafety.html
). A few field studies on the effects of transgenic poplar to non-target organisms and gene flow were carried out in China.
1.Mullin, T.J. and Bertrand, S. 1998. Environmental release of transgenic trees in Canada - potential benefits and assessment of biosafety. Forestry Chronicle vol. 74 (2): p.203-219.
2.Lu Meng Zhu, Han Yi Fan and Du Sheng Ming. 1999. Risk assessment and safety management of genetic engineered trees. Forest Research vol. 12 (3): p.325-331.
3.Sampson, V. and Lohmann, L. 2000. Can't see the trees for the wood. Seedling vol. 17 (3) p.2-13.
4.Yanchuk, A. 2002. The role and implications of biotechnology in forestry. Forest Genetic Resources (No.30) p.18-22. ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/005/y4341e/y4341e00.pdf
5.Van Frankenhuyzen, K..2004. Current status and environmental impact of transgenic forest trees. Canadian Journal of Forest Research vol. 34 (6) p.1163-1180. http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/x04-024
6. Strauss, S. H. and Bradshaw, H. D. (eds) 2004. The bioengineered forest: challenges for science and society. Resources for the Future, Washington, USA
7. Hancock, J. F. and Hokanson, K. 2004. Invasiveness of transgenic versus exotic plant species: how useful is the analogy? In Strauss and Bradshaw (eds). The bioengineered forest: challenges for science and society p.181-189. Resources for the Future, Washington, USA.
8. Johnson, B. and Kirby, K. 2004. Potential impacts of genetically modified trees on biodiversity of forestry plantations: a global perspective. In Strauss and Bradshaw (eds). The bioengineered forest: challenges for science and society p.190-207. Resources for the Future, Washington, USA.
9. Raffa, K. F. 2004. Transgenic resistance in short-rotation plantation trees: benefits, risks, integration with multiple tactics, and the need to balance the scales. In Strauss and Bradshaw (eds). The bioengineered forest: challenges for science and society p.208-227. Resources for the Future, Washington, USA.
10. Burdon, R. D. and Walter, C. 2004. Exotic pines and eucalypts: perspectives on risks of transgenic plantations. In Strauss and Bradshaw (eds). The bioengineered forest: challenges for science and society p.52-57. Resources for the Future, Washington, USA.
11. Hoenicka, H. and Fladung, M. 2006.Biosafety in Populus spp. and other forest trees: from non-native species to taxa derived from traditional breeding and genetic engineering. Trees: Structure and Function vol. 20 (2) p.131-144. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00468-005-0023-5
12. Valenzuela, S., Balocchi, C. and Rodríguez, J. 2006. Transgenic trees and forestry biosafety. Electronic Journal of Biotechnology vol. 9 (3) p.335-339. http://dx.doi.org/10.2225/vol9-issue3-fulltext-22
13. Wang JH, Zhang JG, Hu JJ, Zhang Z, Zhang SG (2004) Studies on safety assessment of transgenic Bt poplar. China Biotechnol 24:49-52
14. Hu JJ, Zhang YZ, Lu MZ, Zhang, JG, Zhang SG (2004) Transgene stability of transgenic Populus nigra and its effects on soil microorganism. Scientia Silvae Genetica 40:105-109
15. Zhang Z, Wang JH, Zhang JG, Zhang SG (2004) Effects of transgenic poplars to the structures of insect community. Scientia Silvae Sinicae 40:84-89
16. Yang MS, Lang HY, Gao BJ, Wang JM, Zheng JB (2003) Insecticidal activity and transgene expression stability of transgenic hybrid poplar clone 741 carrying two insect-resistant genes. Silvae Genetica 52:197-201
17. Gao BJ, Zhang F, Hou DY, Wu BJ, Zhang SP, Zhao XL (2003) Structure of arthropod community in stands of transgenic hybrid poplar 741. J Beijing Forest University 25:62-64
18. Lu M. Z., X. L. Chen，J. J. Hu. Empirical assessment of gene flow from transgenic poplar plantation. In Proceedings of 9th International Symposium on the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms[R], Jeju Island, Korea. 2006.