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Responsible Use:
Biotech Tree Principles


Thank you for your interest in forest stewardship.

This initiative is crucial because forest biotechnology will affect the future of our forests. In fact, it already is. Today there are over one million biotech poplar trees that were established on commercial plantations in China in 2003. There are also commercial biotech papaya trees in the United States (Hawaii). If you want to learn the basics of biotech trees, our Forest Biotechnology Primer is the place to start. If you want to write a research paper on "Forest stewardship", you can turn to BestWritingService.com, where you can get a paper using quality resources and strong arguments.


We need healthy forests. We rely on the ecosystem services Healthy forest ecosystems are ecological life-support systems. Forests provide a full suite of goods and services that are vital to human health and livelihood, natural assets we call ecosystem services. Many of these goods and services are traditionally viewed as free benefits to society, or "public goods" - wildlife habitat and diversity, watershed services, carbon storage, and scenic landscapes, for example. forests provide. We need sustainably managed trees that are a source of paper, packaging, housing, food, and renewable energy. Given the growing world population, we will require more productive, healthy, and sustainably managed forests to fill all these needs. Today we have an onslaught of invasive threats damaging our forests, deforestation, and illegal logging. Forest biotechnology can be a powerful tool against many of these threats. Scientists have already designed biotech trees Biotech trees are trees that are developed through genetic engineering (also called genetic modification) and subsequent trees using asexual propagation (commonly known as cloning). that are resistant to disease, changing climates, and produce more wood fiber with less inputs on less land than conventional trees.


The Responsible Use: Biotech Tree Principles will guide long-term stewardship of biotech trees. People have highly disparate opinions about these trees. We will probably never see a day when everyone agrees on whether to use biotech trees, but that should not deter us from making stewardship principles to help people make smart decisions about how to use the biotech trees that are becoming available today.


A broad set of stakeholders have set aside the question of whether biotech trees should be used to create stewardship principles (1) Biotech trees will benefit people, the environment, or both (2) Risks and benefit of biotech trees will be assessed (3) Transparency is important - stakeholders will be engaged (4) Social equity and indigenous rights are important and will be respected (5) Biotech tree use must follow regulations of the appropriate country because they are used today – and will be used even more in the future. If you have constructive ideas for this initiative, please submit them through our online comment form, or contact us directly


Download the press release announcing the first public version of these Principles and the 2-page summary of the Responsible Use initiative for more information about this work.

We would like to thank our Forest Biotechnology Partners and our Initiative Sponsors for providing the technical and financial resources to make this initiative possible. Together, we have created the most comprehensive information source on forest biotechnology – anywhere.


Thank you,

Adam Costanza


Susan McCord

President   Executive Director

Our Purpose

The Responsible Use: Biotech Tree Principles (referred to hereafter as 'Principles') were developed to help protect forests wherever biotech trees are used. These Principles are the first of their kind and were developed through a transparent, multi-stakeholder mechanism, to achieve the following objectives:

  • Establish a high level of performance for managing biotech trees that is recognized around the world.
  • Create a simple and effective set of practices so users along the biotech tree value chain know how to use the trees responsibly.
  • Increase societal benefits when biotech trees are used by promoting interaction and education between foresters, biotechnologists, and other stakeholders.

Embodied throughout is an understanding that biotech trees and their products should create sustainable benefits. Benefits may be derived from the biotech tree, its products, or scientific insight gained through forest biotechnology research. The Practices give users tools to help them enhance the benefits of forest biotechnology, mitigate risks and maintain the integrity of a biotech tree's history as it moves along the value chain.

Core Beliefs

These Principles are in recognition that responsibly used biotech trees have the potential to benefit society, economies, and the environment in ways that other trees cannot.  Central to these Principles are core beliefs that:

  1. Biotech trees should benefit people, the environment, or both
  2. Risks and benefits of biotech trees must be assessed
  3. Transparency is vital and stakeholders must be engaged
  4. Social equity and indigenous rights are important and must be respected
  5. Biotech tree use must follow regulations in the country of their application

5 Truths

Academia, conservation groups, industry and all other stakeholders who developed these Principles agreed on five “truths,” on which the Principles are based:

  1. Forests are important to people and animals
  2. Biotechnology is a powerful tool
  3. Biotech trees provide the potential for unique and diverse applications
  4. Biotech trees raise personal, environmental, and cultural questions
  5. Biotech trees are being used around the world with different levels of oversight

In Accordance With Responsible Use: Biotech Tree Principles

Users can selectively apply any part of these Principles to their use of biotech trees, but those interested in achieving maximum effectiveness should complete each applicable Practice and associated Action.  Once all Practices and Actions are completed, the user can publicly attest to being ‘In Accordance’ with the Responsible Use: Biotech Tree Principles (referred to as simply In Accordance throughout) for the respective value chain steps. Users should keep applicable documentation to verify their assertion of being ‘In Accordance’.  To promote confidence in the thorough application of these Principles, the IFB encourages all users to be In Accordance, to follow as many Recommendations as possible, and to make as much documentation relating to the application of these Principles readily available to stakeholders.

If users are members of the Forest Biotechnology Partnership*, the IFB will assist them in implementing the Responsible Use: Biotech Tree Principles and publish any documentation they wish in support of an In Accordance assertion and keep a list of all In Accordance assertions from Forest Biotechnology Partners at responsibleuse.org/accordance

* More information about the Forest Biotechnology Partnership and how to become a member is available at: www.forestbiotech.org/partners.html