SweTree Technologies AB is a plant and forest biotechnology company whose goal, in its own words, is to increase the "productivity and performance properties of plants, wood and fiber for forestry, pulp & paper, packaging, hygiene, textile and other fiber related industries." According to a company press release, "The company is associated with 45 renowned research leaders in plant and forest biotechnology residing in several universities in Sweden. SweTree Technologies AB was founded in 1999 by a joint initiative between the foundation of technology transfer (Teknikbrostiftelsen) in Umea and the company Woodheads AB."
- 1 Collaborations
- 2 Profit and Spending
- 3 History
- 4 Principals and Personnel
- 5 Contact
- 6 Articles & Resources
SweTree has collaborated with Mendel Biotechnology to "exploit the value of certain transcription factor (TF) genes within the $750 billion forestry field, among them the Hercules gene. The collaboration includes a research effort to validate certain Mendel lead TF genes for the forestry field as well as a commercial effort to advance identified products.
In March 2007, the two companies announced plans to extend the collaboration to include "a research effort to validate Mendel TF genes for the forestry field as well as a commercial effort to advance identified products." "We are very happy with the results from our first collaboration with SweTree which identified significant, beneficial traits in Poplar trees for the tested genes from Mendel," CEO Neal Gutterson said. "The forest industry has already shown interest in certain genes from the project," according to Mats Johnson, CEO of SweTree Technologies AB.
Mendel also collaborates with Monsanto, Bayer CropScience, BP and ArborGen. ArborGen is a joint collaboration between International Paper, MeadWestVaco Corp. and New Zealand's Rubicon Ltd. that, in August 2009, was "seeking permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sell the first genetically engineered forest trees outside China."
Genetically Engineered Tree Controversy
According to Bloomberg, through this venture, International Paper "plans to remake commercial forests in the same way Monsanto Co. revolutionized farms with genetically modified crops." Rubicon investor David Knott is quoted as saying, "This could take off faster than Monsanto.” "ArborGen’s eucalyptus would become the first engineered forest tree sold in the U.S., where disease-resistant plum and papaya trees already are permitted, according to a USDA database. China has planted about 1.4 million biotech black poplars since commercialization in 2002."
"Engineered eucalyptus trees could be an ecological disaster, bringing increased fire risk and extraordinary water consumption to a new environment," according to Neil J. Carman of the Sierra Club. "Easier-to-pulp trees will be weak, and hurricanes will spread their pollen and contaminate native forests, he said."
“These are Frankenforests,” Carman said. “You are tampering with Mother Nature in a big way by putting genetically engineered trees out there.”
Sweden and SweTree "Keen on Cellulosic Ethanol" from GMO Trees
SweTree CEO Mats Johnson commented to The Economist in 2007, "Another country keen on cellulosic ethanol is Sweden, which is relying heavily upon wood-based solid and liquid biofuels as part of its plan to wean itself off oil by 2020. But where New Zealanders favour willows, the Swedes prefer poplars, since they are abundant and their biology is well understood."
SweTree's GMO tree research focuses on the manipulation of poplar, eucalyptus and spruce. It claims, "These technologies will provide new transgenic trees that can grow taller and faster. We will develop trees with increased fiber length and stem biomass." Trees "are also being tested for other improved bioenergy properties, such as easier hydrolysis of the sugar polymers for subsequent production of ethanol."
This work is done in collaboration "with external parties among the Woodheads researchers as well as with Mendel Biotechnology Inc."
According to the World Rainforest Movement, "GenFor's partner Cellfor has entered into collaborations with a series of universities, including Oxford, Purdue, British Columbia, Alberta and Victoria. Cellfor has also worked with the Institute of Molecular Agrobiology in Singapore and SweTree Genomics in Sweden."
Sveaskog AB, Bergvik Skog AB, Södra and Holmen Skog AB
According to SweTree, "In the somatic embryogenesis we are collaborating with Sveaskog AB, Bergvik Skog AB, Södra and Holmen Skog AB."
According to SweTree, Woodheads AB "was formed in 1999 to manage the common interests of the 46 leading researchers in this field from five Swedish universities. Key to the initiative were Umeå Plant Science Center (one of the world's best academic environments for forest biotechnology research) and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm." SweTree in turn was formed to assist Woodheads AB researchers "with legal support for patenting and commercializing their innovations. In return, SweTree Technologies received first right of refusal on all patents in plant and forest biotechnology emanating from the Woodheads' members. . . . Woodheads AB is a shareholder of SweTree Technologies." A list of the individual researchers comprised by Woodheads AB is available here.
Profit and Spending
SweTree Technologies is a private corporation. Its annual revenue and expenses are not available to the public online. In December 2010, SweTree "entered into a seven-year lease for more than 1,100 square meters with an base rent of SEK 1.5 million."
According to the World Rainforest Movement, "SweTree Technologies was formed in 1999 as a joint initiative of the Foundation of Technology Transfer –Innovationsbron- in Umeå and the company Woodheads AB. Innovationsbron aims to profit by commercialising Swedish research and innovation. Woodheads AB was formed to handle the intellectual property from 44 researchers at the Umeå Plant Science Centre and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Three Swedish forestry companies (Sveaskog, Bergvik Skog and Holmen) are part-owners of SweTree Technologies."
Principals and Personnel
Board of Directors
- Björn Hägglund (Chairman)
- Björn Andrén
- Prof. Göran Bengtsson
- Olof Johansson
- Alice Kempe
- Elisabet Salander Björklund
- Prof. Ove Nilsson
- Prof. Mathias Uhlén
- Sune Wännström
- Mats Johnson, CEO (formerly of Pharmacia Biotech, Amersham Biosciences and KaroBio)
- Dr. Sven-Erik Sköld, VP R&D (formerly of Pharmacia Biotech, Amersham Biosciences and GE Healthcare)
- Prof. Torgny Näsholm, Scientific Advisor (Professor in Ecology and Nutrition at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Umeå Plant Science Centre)
"Scientific Advisory Board"
"SweTree Technologies' Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) ensures that research is performed with the highest quality standards when handling the innovations before and during the patent process. SAB consists of senior researchers among the Woodheads members. Depending on the expertice needed the whole width of the knowledge of the Woodheads members is used." A list of Woodheads researchers can be found here.
P.O Box 4095
SE-904 03 Umeå
Phone: +46-(0)90-695 8900
Fax: +46-(0)90-695 8949
Articles & Resources
Other SourceWatch Resources
- Genetically Modified Organisms
- Mendel Biotechnology
- Monsanto and GM Foods: Health Risks
- Bayer CropScience
- Pioneer Hi-Bred
- Bt Crops
- Roundup Ready Crops
- GMO Policies by Country
- Using Hunger to Promote Genetic Engineering
- World Rainforest Movement, Sweden WRM information sheets on GE tree research, organizational information sheet, first posted August 1, 2008
- World Rainforest Movement, Forestry corporations and GM tree research, WRM Bulletin, Issue Number 88, November 2004
- ↑ SweTree Technologies, Company, corporate website, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Mendel Biotechnology and SweTree Technologies, Mendel Biotechnology and SweTree Technologies will jointly exploit the value of certain genes in forestry: Collaboration agreement to investigate the Hercules and other transcription factor genes' function in trees, joint press release, October 29, 2004, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ Mendel Biotechnology and SweTree Technologies, Mendel Biotechnology and SweTree Technologies extend their collaboration, joint press release, March 14, 2007, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ Mendel Biotechnologies, 2009 Annual Report, corporate annual report, May 15, 2010, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ Tom Levitt, "Public sector should develop GM crops for seed companies, says leading researcher," The Ecologist, August 1, 2011, accessed August 2, 2011
- ↑ Mendel Biotechnology, "Strategic Partners," corporate website, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ Jack Kaskey, International Paper Treads Monsanto’s Path to ‘Frankenforests’, Bloomberg, August 28, 2009
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Jack Kaskey, International Paper Treads Monsanto’s Path to ‘Frankenforests’, Bloomberg, August 28, 2009
- ↑ Woodstock revisited: Could new techniques for producing ethanol make old-fashioned trees the biofuel of the future?, The Economist Technology Quarterly, March 8, 2007, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 SweTree, Biotech Trees, corporate website, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ World Rainforest Movement, Forestry corporations and GM tree research, WRM Bulletin, Issue Number 88, November 2004, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ SweTree, Collaborations, corporate website, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ SweTree, Woodheads AB, corporate website, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ SweTree Technologies, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, online business financial profile, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ Klovern AB Rents Out Further in Uppsala Business Park, Reuters, December 8, 2010, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ World Rainforest Movement, Sweden WRM information sheets on GE tree research, organizational information sheet, first posted August 1, 2008, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 SweTree, Boards, corporate website, accessed November 9, 2011
- ↑ SweTree, Management, corporate website, accessed November 9, 2011