There are attempts to genetically modify plants for industrial use. For example, the paper and animal feed industries are genetically modifying trees and other plants to contain low levels of lignin, a substance that strengthens plant cell walls. This makes the plants easier and cheaper to process. But what's good for industry often isn't good for ecosystems. Lignin makes plants resistant to pests, diseases, and harsh weather conditions. So the genetic engineers are actually building weakness into the plant gene pool, with potentially harmful consequences.
Added to these risks are those arising from the genetic manipulation of crops. While the first type of risk is common to all food crops bred for industrial use, the second type of risk can be avoided by developing non-GM plants for industrial use.
The first GM plant for industrial use to be commercialized in the European Union is the Amflora potato, which is genetically engineered to produce a high level of amylopectin. But high amylopectin potatoes are also being developed without GM.
German potato breeder launches non-GM high amylopectin potatoes (September 2009)
Starch from these potatoes contains a substance called amylopectin that will be used in food, paper, adhesives, textiles and building applications.