New Report and Jan. 8 Webinar: Forest Health and Biotechnology

Nearly one-third of the U.S. is covered by forests, and these ecosystems provide habitat for wildlife, store carbon, and purify air and water. They also hold historical, cultural, and social significance for Americans and are a source of food and fiber. But a growing amount of forestland is under threat from pests and pathogens, and these problems are expected to increase with climate change.

Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, examines the possibility of harnessing biotechnology to address threats to forest tree health by introducing pest-resistant traits to trees. The report explores what is known about the ecological, ethical, and social implications of using biotechnology in forests, and offers a research agenda to help fill gaps in knowledge.

The report will be released with a webinar starting at 2 p.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 8, which will feature a presentation by Susan Offutt, chair of the committee that wrote the report and retired chief economist at the GAO, followed by a Q&A session with Dr. Offutt and three additional members of the study committee:

-- Jason A. Delborne, associate professor of science, policy, and society, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University
-- Stephen DiFazio, professor, Department of Biology, and director, Genomics Core Facility, West Virginia University
-- Inés Ibáñez, associate professor, School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan

Advance copies of the report will be available to reporters only starting at 2 p.m. EST Monday, Jan. 7. The report is embargoed and not for public release before 2 p.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 8. Reporters may obtain a copy by contacting the Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail