Phytoremediation is actually a genneric term for several ways in which plants can be used to clean up contaminated soils and water. Plants may break down or degrade organic pollutants, or remove and stabilize metal contaminants. The methods used to phytoremediate metal contaminants are slightly different to those used to remediate sites polluted with organic contaminants.
Not all GM plants are grown as crops. Soil and groundwater pollution continues to be a problem in all parts of the world. Plants such as poplar trees have been genetically engineered to clean up heavy metal pollution from contaminated soil.