Public Knowledge and Perceptions of Safety Issues Towards the Use of Genetically Modified Forest Trees: A Cross-Country Pilot Survey

Vassiliki Kazana, Lambros Tsourgiannis, Valasia Iakovoglou, Christos Stamatiou, Alexander Alexandrov, Susana Araújo, Saša Bogdan, Gregor Bozic, Robert Brus, Gerd Bossinger, Anastasia Boutsimea, Nevenka Celepirovic, Helena Cvrčková, Matthias Fladung, Mladen Ivankovic, Angelos Kazaklis, Paraskevi Koutsona, Zlata Luthar, Pavliná Máchová, Nieves VidalNoemi Tel-Zur

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Information on public awareness and acceptance issues regarding the use of Genetically Modified (GM) trees in forestry is lacking, although such information is available for GM organisms in agriculture. This is mainly due to the fact that in Europe there is no authorization for commercial planting of GM forest trees. To address this issue and within the frame of a European COST Action on the Biosafety of Transgenic Forest Trees (FP0905), a KAP (Knowledge Attitude Practice) cross-country pilot survey was conducted among university students of different disciplines as sampling subjects. In total, 1920 completed questionnaires from 16 European and non-European countries were evaluated. The results provided novel cross-country insights into the level of public knowledge, particularly of young people and their perceptions on safety issues related to the use of GM forest trees, as well as on their attitude towards the acceptance of GM forest trees cultivation. The majority of the respondents, which was more than 60 % in all countries, approved the use of GM forest trees for commercial plantations, excluding natural forests. The majority of respondents also appeared willing to buy products from such plantations, such as wood products, pulp and paper. Over 80 % of the respondents from all countries were in favour of using labelling to identify products of GM origin, while more than 80 % of those would prefer that this labelling be legally mandatory. The top three benefits that were rated as very important in all countries involved the potential lower demand of the GM forest plantations for pesticides, the potential of GM forest trees for restoration of contaminated soils and the potential higher GM forest tree productivity. The top three GM forest tree risks that were perceived as serious hazards in all countries included the potential loss of biodiversity due to gene flow between transgenic and wild trees, the adverse effects of biotrophic processes on host ecosystems and the cultural adaptation to changing biodiversity conditions due to transgene escape. Overall, lack of knowledge regarding the potential benefits and potential risks of the cultivation of GM forest trees was observed in almost all surveyed countries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiosafety of Forest Transgenic Trees. Forestry Sciences
PublisherSpringer, Dordrecht
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-017-7531-1
ISBN (Print)978-94-017-7529-8
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • GM forest tree benefits
  • GM forest tree risks
  • GM forest tree cultivation public acceptance
  • KAP survey


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