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Attack of the pine tree clones

Hedge funds want more uniform forests, so they are turning to clones.

Vancouver's CellFor, which breeds clones of pine trees for forestry operations, has received $24.5 million in a fourth round of financing, according to VentureWire.

The company, founded after the merger of two other companies in 1999, has come up with techniques for breeding disease-resistant, uniform pine tree seedlings. The 18-inch high seedlings cost 35 cents each, more than the five cents that ordinary seedlings fetch. Still, CellFor says it can sell 100 million seedlings annually and hit profitability in two years.

Forestry is the last sector of agriculture that doesn't heavily emphasize breeding techniques to increase yield, CellFor chairman Jonathan Malkin told VentureWire. But in the past few years, ownership of forests in the U.S. has shifted from agribusiness companies to hedge funds and timberland investment management organizations (TIMOs).

"These TIMOs and hedge funds are looking to maximize the return on their trees," he told VentureWire.

So you have clone pine trees being introduced to forests to maximize the profit of hedge funds. It almost makes you want to become an anarchist.