Federal regulators ask biotech experts if GMO trees should be deployed to save ‘dying’ US forests

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Plans are under way to plant swathes of genetically engineered trees across the ailing forests of North America in a bid to save them from the ravages of disease and pests.

Species such as the ash tree and whitebark pine have faced catastrophic declines of up to half their populations after creatures introduced from overseas tore through their defenses.

“The reason they are so deadly is that native species are not genetically adapted to defend against them,” explained Dr Ines Ibanez, an ecologist from the University of Michigan.

“People are interested in exploring the potential of biotechnology, which could be used to introduce a specific trait unto a tree species or make it resistant or tolerant a disease or pest,” said Dr Jason Delborne, a social scientist at North Carolina State University

Related article:  India floats glyphosate weedkiller restrictions to curb demand for illegal herbicide-tolerant cotton

While genetic engineering normally takes place within tight restrictions, these GM trees would be created with the express intention of spreading far and wide.

This prompted the US government to enlist Drs Delborne and Ibanez along with other collaborators from across the academic spectrum to assess whether the nation should embark on such an enormous leap into the unknown.

Read full, original article: Plan to plant genetically engineered trees throughout US to save dying forests

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