Transgenic birch plantations in Finland

Seven years ago Finland established two outdoor experiments with transgenic Silver birch. These plantations were very relevant to Sweden as it was the only plantations with transgenic trees with genotypes well adapted for outdoor Sweden. Finland is also similar to Sweden Today Finland has no field experiments with transgenic anymore.  An experiment in Close to Helsinki was abandoned because they built new houses in that area. An experiment in Punkaharju was vandalised.

Metla's field trial destroyed in Punkaharju

A Metla's field trial of Silver birch was destroyed during June 18-21, 2004. The trial destroyed is located on the northern side of the Savonlinna-Punkaharju road. All of the nearly 400 seedlings planted in the fenced and locked site of 2000 square meters big were broken off or ripped from the ground.  The financial value of the trial was at least 100 000 Euros, not mentioning the several years of work by many people.  The Mikkeli unit of Central Criminal Police was investigating the act. Allthough many think they know who did it, there are no proofs and no actions taken by police.

Some of the birches in this five year old trial were transgenic. The genetic constitution of the plants had been modified regarding an enzyme responsible for the fixation of carbon dioxide. The primary purposes of the trial were the environmental and ecological effects of geneticially modified forest trees and the permanence of the transferred genes. There is little information on such issues and the need for multidisciplinary environmental research is widely recognised. These questions could have been examined with the aid of this field trial.  The GM research is carried out under a permission and it is monitored by the Board of Gene Technology.

When Metla reported the vandalism to the police, local greenies reciproced by reporting Metla to the police accusing Metla not only for unsafe management of the site, but also that they had unreported material in this field experiment. The police did not react at all to these claims. The board of gene technology told that the experiment was fully legal and well managed.

It seems experiments with GM-trees at known localities are a very probable target for ecoterrorist attacks.

Finland holds on....

Bioteknikerna i Joensuu planerar att plantera genmodifierade björkar till naturen. Det är icke-blommande björkar som skall testas. Finland har sisu och ger sig inte, där Skogsforskningsinstitutet och Helsingfors Universitet har misslyckats med att anlägga det enda för norra Sverige relevanta GMO-skogsförsöket skall nu Universitetet i Joensuu klara biffen!

And Sweden...
In Sweden there is the intention to place some potted GMO trees outdoors in the vegetation period, but keep them indoors in winter. Anyway not of interest for practical forestry, who keeps trees outside in winters also.