Science Policy Exchange project leader Gary Lovett of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is quoted in an article entitled, "Can Genetic Engineering Bring Back the American Chestnut?" by Gabriel Popkin, in the New York Times Magazine.
The American chestnut was a valuable, ecologically and economically important tree that helped build industrial America, until an imported disease, the chestnut blight, virtually eliminated it from our forests. Popkin reports on efforts to restore chestnut by engineering a tree that is resistant to the blight.
Lovett leads Tree-SMART Trade, a project initiated in collaboration with the Science Policy Exchange, through which a team of scientists and policy experts identified five actions to reduce the accidental importation of insects and diseases from international trade:
Switch to pest-free packaging materials for international shipments to the US.
Minimize new pest outbreaks by expanding early and rapid response programs.
Augment international pest prevention programs with key trade partners.
Restrict the importation of live plants in the same genera as native woody plants in the US.
Tighten enforcement of penalties for non-compliant shipments.
In the New York Times Magazine article, Lovett notes that an engineered chestnut would be just one of many new organisms established in U.S. forests by people.
“We’re introducing new whole organisms all the time,” says Gary Lovett, a forest ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.