By Elaine Thompson Worcester Telegram & Gazette 28 March 2019

SPENCER – The president and a board member of the local chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation announced they are resigning to protest the organization’s support for genetically modified American chestnut trees.

Board President Lois Breault-Melican and her husband, Denis M. Melican of the Massachusetts/Rhode Island Chapter of the foundation, made the announcement Thursday after working for 16 years to help bring back the American chestnut species through backcross breeding.

They said they simply do not believe in genetic engineering and they are skeptical about what impact the process could have on the environment and people’s health.

“We are unwilling to lift a finger, donate a nickel or spend one minute of our time assisting the development of genetically engineered trees or using the American chestnut to promote biotechnology in forests as any kind of benefit to the environment. The GE American chestnut is draining the idealism and integrity from TACF,” the Melicans said.

“There is just no reason for taking the risks involved with genetically engineering the American chestnut. The local TACF chapters have been working for years and having great success developing blight-resistant American chestnut trees using backcross breeding.”

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