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When Biotechnology Goes “Wild”: GE Chestnut Trees

Jason A. Delborne, Ph.D., explores the case of the genetically engineered (GE) American chestnut tree, which could be the first genetically modified organism (GMO) approved in the U.S. that is designed to spread and persist in unmanaged environments.

Published onAug 11, 2022
When Biotechnology Goes “Wild”: GE Chestnut Trees
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Abstract

What does it mean when biotechnology moves from agricultural fields, dinner plates and pharmacies out into the “wild?” How do we make sense of controversies over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) when they are designed for public benefit and environmental restoration? Jason A. Delborne, Ph.D., explores the case of the genetically engineered (GE) American chestnut tree, which could be the first genetically modified organism (GMO) approved in the U.S. that is designed to spread and persist in unmanaged environments. Currently under regulatory review, the GE chestnut raises a host of ethical, political and social questions that require an interdisciplinary approach. Such complexity is what drives the research, teaching and outreach of NC State’s Genetic Engineering and Society Center.

Delborne is professor of science, policy, and society, with joint appointments in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources and the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program in Genetic Engineering and Society. He is a university faculty scholar and also serves as director of the undergraduate program in science, technology and society (STS) in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Delborne’s research focuses on stakeholder and public engagement surrounding emerging biotechnologies for conservation. He served on two expert committees for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (gene drives in 2016, forest biotechnology in 2019) and the IUCN Task Force on Synthetic Biology and Biodiversity Conservation (2018-21). The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) elected Delborne as a fellow in 2021.

When Biotechnology Goes "Wild": GE Chestnut Trees (Jason A. Delborne)

This podcast was originally produced for an audience of entering first-year and transfer students at NC State University as a part of an interdisciplinary experience. It is available for noncommercial reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial 4.0 License, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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