According to the ETC Grup, ArborGen LLC. is petitioning the U.S. government to be allowed to plant an estimated number of 260,000 genetically modified flowering eucalyptus trees in seven southern U.S. states on 330 acres in field trials. ArborGen has already requested permission for the commercial planting of the cold tolerant eucalyptus clones across the U.S. South. The government is expected to issue their decision on this later this year.
The eucalyptus propagated by ArborGen, a hybrid of Eucalyptus grandis X Eucalyptus urophylla, is engineered to tolerate the colder temperatures of the Southern United States, which experience occasional winter freezes. It also produces less structural polymer lignin, and is supposed to digest some of its own RNA in the hope of reducing fertility. The permits, if granted, would also allow the trees to flower. The states targeted for field trials are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.
In 2007 ArborGen was given permission to allow 1.1 acres of genetically modified eucalyptus to flower. This was expanded to 7.6 acres with no public input.
Source: ETC Group, 2009-06-17.