No evidence GMO chestnut trees harm humans, animals or the environment, developers tell USDA

NR KaunzingerChristina e
Using genetic modification to revive American chestnut trees

Researchers at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) have developed Darling 58 American chestnut (Castanea dentata) trees with enhanced blight tolerance. This enhanced blight tolerance trait is generated by a single gene and can be passed on to subsequent generations through classical Mendelian inheritance.

The purpose of these trees is not to replace the surviving remnant American chestnut population, but to help rescue it by allowing introgression of the blight tolerance trait and to ultimately produce a viable and diverse restoration population from their offspring. Because offspring of Darling 58 trees will include both transgenic and non-transgenic individuals, the original wild-type American chestnut will be conserved far into the future.

To our knowledge this is the first petition for a bioengineered organism with the goal of ecological restoration, and represents a unique application for this technology to be potentially used for environmental and cultural benefits outside agriculture. This petition requests that the bioengineered Darling 58 event of American chestnut (and its offspring) be granted nonregulated status by APHIS [USDA’S Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] because it does not pose a plant pest risk as compared to its isogenic controls or traditionally bred chestnuts. Therefore, it should no longer be considered a regulated article under 7 CFR Part 340.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Why CRISPR-edited crops should be allowed in organic agriculture

The American chestnut was once one of the most abundant trees within its range in the eastern United States. It was a fast-growing and long-lived canopy tree that produced a consistent crop of healthful nuts, could be harvested for valuable lumber, and was considered a keystone species for wildlife. That ended when an invasive fungal pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, was introduced from Asia and killed over 3 billion American chestnuts throughout their natural range.

Tolerance to this exotic pathogen in Darling 58 American chestnuts was enhanced by adding a gene for an enzyme called oxalate oxidase (OxO). This enzyme has no direct fungicidal properties, but rather detoxifies oxalic acid (oxalate) produced by the fungus, preventing the acid from killing the chestnut’s tissues which can lead tolethal cankers on the tree.

Although it is from wheat, OxO is not related to gluten and does not match any known allergens from wheat or other sources. Independent nutrition analyses have confirmed that transgenic chestnuts are not nutritionally different than their wild-type relatives. Even with the ubiquity of OxO in the environment and agriculture, there are no reports of this enzyme being detrimental to human or animal health, having adverse effects on the environment, or being a plant pest risk.

Read the original post

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend