GMO trees: Saving the American Chestnut tree

Ive mentioned this technology on ERV before:

Saving the American Chestnut tree from extinction with GMOs

Well the scientists involved think they have finally done it. They have finally made American Chestnut trees resistant to the blight that is literally driving the species to extinction:

Breakthrough at SUNY-ESF: Genetic engineering may save the nearly extinct American chestnut

After 25 years of research, a pair of professors at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry say they have used a gene from wheat to create an American chestnut that could withstand the blight that wiped out up to 5 billion of the trees in the United States.

"It is tremendously satisfying to reach this level of success," said ESF professor Chuck Maynard, who worked with fellow professor William Powell to build the blight-resistant tree.

Like how GMO Papaya saved Regular Papaya from extinction, its possible that GMO American Chestnut has not only saved the species from extinction, but also can save Regular American Chestnut. Of course it depends on how the blight is spread, but like papaya, perhaps planting armies of GMO Chestnut around Regular Chestnut trees can provide a buffer to keep the Regular trees blight-free.

It is *amazing*. I LOVE THE FUTURE!!!!

But not everyone is so excited.

Some people would rather the American Chestnut tree go extinct, than have the species survive 'unclean'.

Genetic-engineering critics open fire on American chestnut breakthrough at SUNY ESF

The Global Justice Ecology Project has also criticized the SUNY-ESF research, saying it had been supported in part by corporations who want to profit from genetically engineered crops, including Monsanto and ArborGen.

"A look at the partners and funders of this program at SUNY ESF over the years reveals some very disturbing bedfellows," said the group's executive director, Anne Petermann, in an article titled "This Holiday Season say NO to GMO Chestnuts."

ESF's American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project website lists Monsanto and ArborGen as donors.

"Sorry, American Chestnut trees! If Apple or Samsung sponsored your research, maybe even Google, you would be saved. But MONSANTO *cuescarymusicandlightningcrashes* sponsored you, so BYE BYE!"



The latest criticism follows a letter to the editor to last month, in which Martha Crouch, a biologist with the Center for Food Safety, said release of the tree in the wild is premature.

"The researchers' dream could become a nightmare if something goes wrong," Crouch wrote. "Genetically engineered trees will be difficult to recall once they spread."

Its true. The GMO American Chestnut trees, which have one gene inserted into them, from *wheat*, might magically become sentient malevolent Ents. Or perhaps some kind of tree-Godzilla-like deities. Indeed scientists cannot be 100% certain these GMO chestnut trees will begin manufacturing yellow cake uranium.



Apparently the 'Center for Food Safety' is a generic anti-GMO crank factory. Per crank-factory organizational names, you would think the organization had something to do with making sure food is safe. No E. coli in food, no lead, whatever. They also chose a name curiously (purposefully?) close to the FDAs 'Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition'. But really they have nothing to do with food safety or the FDA. They are just straight-up pro-organic industry/anti-food-technology.

"CFS’s legal team is the organic community’s last line of defense against this GMO threat to farmers and consumer choice."

“Now is the time for every corporation that has profited from the organic movement to unite and stop Monsanto. Who else will step forward to protect the sacred natural order for future generations?”

Their antics are discussed all over Biofortified.

And just to be clear, the CFSs (oh that is apt initialism) concerns about GMO Chestnut trees are idiotic. Really idiotic. Especially considering their representative, Martha Crouch, has been crusading against plant technology for decades.

"Bald eagles genetically engineered with pigeon genes to withstand pesticides."

... Pigeons are resistant to pesticides?

... We require pesticide resistant bald eagles?



Crouch either knows a lot more, or a lot less about this world, than I do.

"Scientists insert synthetic DNA into Florida panthers to resist deadly virus."

Florida panthers are endangered. If they were becoming critically endangered because of a virus, and the virus was treatable by DNA vaccination, damn fucking straight we could, and should do that. WHY WOULD ANYONE NOT WANT TO SAVE AN ENDANGERED ANIMAL?????

Many conservationists would balk at interfering with wild animals in such an extreme way - directly manipulating their very nature by adding genes from unrelated species.

Many 'conservationists'/scientists would give their right arm to be able to engineer a solution to population problems of 'wild animals'. What if we could save the Tasmanian Devils? What if we could save the White Rhino? If I had a genetic solution sitting on a silver platter for those scientists, I seriously, *seriously* doubt they would turn their noses up. What we are able to do with genetic engineering in plants is a luxury.

Their wheat gene is unproven outside of the lab...

Because wheat is only grown in laboratory settings? No one knows how OXO works? What?

And the blight is likely to quickly defeat single gene resistance.

Not that I know of any data to support this particular claim, but lets assume its true. Better to not try at all, than to try, buy American Chestnuts some time, buy our technology some time, and ultimately fail? "That man is on fire. But maybe this fire extinguisher is empty. Maybe hes already suffered fatal wounds. Better not even try to put the fire out."


We literally have a chance, right now, to save a species from extinction.

People who are anti-business and anti-science want to stop us.

They do not give a *fuck* about saving this species.

More like this

A fungus plague has been attacking the American Chestnut tree population for over 100 years now. Scientists have been trying everything to save the tree from extinction. I wrote about one approach back in 2009: Virus helps save the American Chestnut tree Really innovative idea-- Infect fungal…
This Op-Ed just published today in the NY TImes. Here it is with links and a few edits. A REPORT by the National Research Council last month gave ammunition to both sides in the debate over the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. More than 80 percent of the corn, soybeans and cotton grown…
Can anyone name one anti-GMOer thats not a self-indulgent, arrogant moron? Google News alerted me to this breathless expose by an Anne Hart: "Why farmed fish are genetically altered for faster growth with a carrier retrovirus" Now, for some reason I can only get this article via Google cache.…
The ‘Frankenfoods’ debate is coming to your dinner table. Just last month, a mini-war developed in Europe, when the European Union’s chief scientist, renowned biologist Anne Glover, said that foods made through genetic engineering, such as soy beans—about 80 percent of US grown soybeans have been…

The right has the Tea Party. We should give a name to this faction of idiots on the left.

The Kool Aid Party?

By daedalus2u (not verified) on 21 Dec 2014 #permalink

I wonder if any of them drive Volkswagens* on limited-access highways.


"The GMO American Chestnut trees, which have one gene inserted into them, from *wheat*, might magically become sentient malevolent Ents. Or perhaps some kind of tree-Godzilla-like deities. Indeed scientists cannot be 100% certain these GMO chestnut trees will begin manufacturing yellow cake uranium."

I just read that paragraph out loud to my entire lab. We had a good laugh. Hopefully you just picked up 3-4 new readers; i do pimp your amazing writing style as often as possible.

PS I want a chestnut Ent. It would make my commute so much more fun :D

By Double Shelix (not verified) on 23 Dec 2014 #permalink

The irrational Left already has a name used by conservatives: Greenies.

You might argue that green is a legitimate word used by environmentalists, but then the original Tea Partiers might have been speaking truth to power.

Epithets are words we use to label the opposition tribe. they don't enlighten. They just reduce debate to us vs them.

The underlying personality trait is susceptibility to woo. This is not a left or right thing.

By Petrushka (not verified) on 29 Dec 2014 #permalink

Man, I am having a heck of a time with the yellow cake uranium thing, world domination etc etc. (Every night my plans seem to curiously be fouled, usually by my not-so-bright lab assistant, Pinky, but I digress). Can you arrange for one of those Ents to come over and give me a hand?

Thanks in advance!


By alcaponejunior (not verified) on 07 Jan 2015 #permalink

I will plant some as soon as they are available. From the quality of the wood alone this tree is worth saving. I would rather put chestnut wood on my deck than pine treated with poison . The leaves will make my garden soil more fertile and allow me to plant roundup ready sweet corn closer together.

By John miller (not verified) on 03 Mar 2015 #permalink

This tree is definitely worth saving. If GMO trees is what it is going to take to save this specie, it is worth it.

By Freedel Meter (not verified) on 08 Apr 2015 #permalink

I do not usually stand for genetic modification. But in this situation, there is not much that the human race can do to prevent extinction. The enemy in this case is natural. Therefore I think that GMO trees are a good idea to save this specie. Anti-GMOers should rethink this situation. I agree that if this is the only way to save an endangered specie, why wouldn't we try to save it? Why would anti-scientist be against saving nature? The existence of this tree is not only for our own benefit, but also for the ecosystems and biodiversity.

By Yvonne van Zyl (not verified) on 08 Apr 2015 #permalink

Greenies :)

By John Benade (not verified) on 10 Apr 2015 #permalink

Alot of food chains have already been altered , I think it's best that we do what we can to save the species we have left, ultimately we would be saving Earth because every extinction contributes to global warming. Surely we can compromise the "pureness" of one species for the greater good.

By Nomaswazi Mase… (not verified) on 16 Apr 2015 #permalink

Stop with messing with the balance of nature!

By Yolanda Sima (not verified) on 16 Apr 2015 #permalink

I agree with the above comments, this is a beautiful tree and seeing it become extinct would be a tragedy. Everyone has mentioned the obvious dislike and mistrust in the GMO system and methods. Unfortunately this is life, when a method is created to intend to preserve, improve and create often money and greed will turn this efficiency into capital. Where do we draw the line ? what can we modify ? and who decides?

Agreed Unless they were torn down by humans or environmentally altered i dont see why people should interrupt as "Yolanda" describes at the Balance

By Quintis Swart (not verified) on 19 Apr 2015 #permalink

Then Who are we to save our own species on a surgery table ? The "Balance" we speak of is the human perception of our environment and its pressures. We do not ultimately know whats right but its what feels right that matters! Saving beautiful species who share this earth with us is what i think feels right.

The question really is "when will it happen" instead of "whether or not it is the right thing to do". Humans have little respect for the natural world.

I agree ! but GMOs good or bad are a conflict on everything natural to begin with.

By Quintis Swart (not verified) on 19 Apr 2015 #permalink

This is evolution at it's best. Genetically modified vegetables have been strongly linked with having cancer-causing chemicals.
You would why the manufacturing of these GMOs is not prohibited or at the very least regulated, and the answer would be "because it helps provide enough crop for everyone".
With the rate our world population is growing there is bound to be a food shortage and science has to step because the consequences would be devastating. I think we should take this system and do our best to deal with the negatives.

By Diketo Mabuselela (not verified) on 19 Apr 2015 #permalink