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Project Title:

The Potential for Biotechnology to Address Forest Health
PIN: DELS-BANR-16-02        

Major Unit:

Division on Earth and Life Studies

Sub Unit: Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

RSO: Laney, Kara N.

Subject/Focus Area: Agriculture; Biology and Life Sciences; Environment and Environmental Studies

Project Scope
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An ad hoc committee will examine the potential use of biotechnology to mitigate threats to forest tree health, identify the ecological, ethical, and social implications of deploying biotechnology in forests, and develop a research agenda to address knowledge gaps about its application. The study will focus on trees and consider the use of biotechnology to prevent the extirpation of a single tree species by an insect or disease that could have negative consequences for forest health. The study will examine the following questions:

1. What is the current state of the science regarding the potential for using genetic engineering and similar technologies in trees to improve forest health?

2. What are the ethical, legal, and social implications of using or not using genetic engineering to improve forest health?

3. What other unique challenges and opportunities are posed by the development of a genetically engineered product for a non-commercial, public good such as forest health?  

4. What research is needed to fill knowledge gaps about developing and using genetic engineering as a tool to protect forest health?

5. What information or analysis is needed to develop a risk framework for using genetic engineering that can optimize benefits to forest health, and can adaptive management be used to responsibly advance the use of biotechnology for forest health?

6. How might the evaluation of the ecological and environmental risks of deploying trees developed with genetic engineering be balanced with the risk to forest health if the technology is not deployed, or relative to the risks of deploying trees developed using other (non-GE) methods?

The committee will prepare a report that addresses the questions above and explains the basis for its conclusions and recommendations.

This project is sponsored by The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A report will be issued at the end of 2018.

View Study Website

Project Duration: 18 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 12/01/2017
 Meeting 2 - 12/12/2017
 Meeting 3 - 12/21/2017
 Meeting 4 - 02/08/2018
 Meeting 5 - 02/12/2018
 Meeting 6 - 02/22/2018
 Meeting 7 - 02/23/2018
 Meeting 8 - 03/02/2018
 Meeting 9 - 03/05/2018
 Meeting 10 - 03/08/2018
 Meeting 11 - 03/12/2018
 Meeting 12 - 03/12/2018
 Meeting 13 - 03/27/2018
 Meeting 14 - 04/05/2018


Reports having no URL can be seen
at the Public Access Records Office