Paper industry tests genetically altered trees

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - First, there were genetically engineered crops. Now, there are designer trees.

The paper industry is planning to plant forests of genetically altered Australian eucalyptus in seven Southern states to see how far north it can grow.

Fast-growing eucalyptus provides pulp that's perfect for paper, but so far, it hasn't been able to tolerate cold.

A biotechnology venture affiliated with three large paper companies has been developing a genetically engineered version to withstand a freeze.

ArborGen recently received U.S. Department of Agriculture approval to plant as many as 250,000 trees in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana.

Critics say the trees use too much water and could harm natural ecosystems.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.