Tree Frog Forestry News

Tree biotech and the American chestnut

By Rachel Smolker and Anne Petermann
The Ecologist
June 13, 2019
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

The American chestnut tree was attacked by the fungal pathogen (Cryphonectria parasitica) about a century ago, driving it to functional extinction. Now, scientists at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry claim to have created, through biotechnology, a resistant American chestnut variety. They aim to petition the required regulatory agencies for deregulation of their genetically engineered chestnut in the near future, with the stated goal of “restoring” the species to nature. If it is deregulated, the GE chestnut would be the first GE forest tree species to be planted out in forests with the deliberate intention of spreading freely. Monitoring or reversing their spread, once released, would likely be impossible. …The American chestnut … was once a dominant species along the eastern USA and into Canada.  Prolific nuts provided food, and fodder for livestock. The wood is rot resistant, easy to work with …was prized by the timber industry.  

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