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Commercialization of Forest Biotechnology: Economic Targets for Enhanced Global

Current economic analyses show that in the U. S., fiber costs represent up to 40% of the total cost for paper manufacturing. In countries located near the equator, these costs are dramatically lower. Commercialization of biological technologies that lead to genetic improvement of tree growth rates, wood and fiber qualities promise to significantly lower raw material costs and to maximize processing efficiencies, minimize environmental impacts, and improve product performances. A multidimensional cash flow model was constructed to estimate the value of changes in growth, wood and fiber properties of loblolly pine on linerboard production. Of the traits modeled increases in fiber tensile strength, specific gravity, and growth were found to be more valuable than reduced lignin content. If trees with a 20% increase in specific gravity captured 20% of the loblolly pine seedling market in the U. S. A., then the overall value of this wood quality improvement just for linerboard production alone was estimated at $300 million per year. These results strongly support the forest industry goal of using biotechnology to improve tree growth and wood quality.

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Author(s): Gary F. Peter, D. E. White, N. Sicarelli, R. De La Torre, David Newman

Publication: Tree Improvement and Genetics - Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference - 2005