Note: The assertion that the American chestnut could be restored using GE technologies is not at all certain.  Tests have only been run for 12 or so years, while AC trees can live for over 200 years.  How the engineered trait will behave in the future under various environmental stresses is unknown and unknowable.

Researchers can restore the American chestnut with genetic engineering.  But at what cost?

The GM chestnut, a research project funded by Monsanto and other large agribusinesses, could infringe on indigenous sovereignty.

The New Food Economy, April 29th, 2019
by Jessica Fu

In the early 1900s, the American chestnut species was hit by a fungal infection that invaded trees through their cracks and caused big yellow cankers to blossom around their trunks. Affected trees, having no resistance to the disease, died slowly but surely—first above their wounds, then below them. Scientists believe that the blight originated in Asia and was imported stateside alongside Japanese chestnut trees, which have shown greater immunity to the blight. But the American chestnut was less blessed, and millions of trees fell victim to the disease over the course of the following century. Now, only a fraction of their original population remains.

Fast forward to today, as researchers at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry have developed a genetically modified version of the chestnut that can neutralize the infection’s toxicity. But just because scientists can introduce a blight-resistant chestnut breed to forests doesn’t mean they ought to, says a new white paper published by The Campaign to Stop GE Trees, Global Justice Ecology Project, and Biofuelwatch, a network of over 50 organizations representing environmental nonprofits, farm workers, and rural communities. The paper outlines a range of concerns about the possible consequences of releasing a GM chestnut into nature.

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