Economic prospects and policy framework of forest biotechnology in the Southern U.S.A. and South America
An economic framework is presented for analyzing forest biotechnology with a focus on the case of transgenic forest trees in the southeastern U.S., Uruguay, and South America. Prospective economic benefits of forest biotechnology could reach hundreds of millions of dollars per year, but greatly increased research expenditures will also be required to achieve this potential. Commercial use of transgenic forests also must overcome biological, social, and policy issues related to social values as well as risk and control of dispersion that are unique with forest species. Benefits are likely to be realized earlier in South America than in the U.S., where timber growth rates and financial returns are much higher and clonal technology more prevalent, especially with Eucalyptus species. All major South American countries have ratified the Protocol of Cartegena on Biosafety, which requires risk assessments for the use of biotechnology of agricultural and, by extension, forestry. More detailed research can assess benefits, costs, and risks of transgenic forest trees and other biotechnology innovations using the framework presented here.