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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
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Forest Health
and Biotechnology

Possibilities and Considerations

Committee on the Potential for Biotechnology to Address Forest Health

Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Division on Earth and Life Studies

A Consensus Study Report of

images

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This study was supported by the Agricultural Research Service (Agreement No. 59-0790-7-0018), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Agreement No. 16-2000-0094-GR), the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Agreement No. 2017-38832-26613), and the U.S. Forest Service (Agreement No. 16-DG-11132650-299) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Grant Agreement E17-49); and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Contract No. EP-C-14-005). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-48288-2
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-48288-7
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25221

Additional copies of this publication are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.

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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/25221.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
×

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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president.

The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.

The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.

Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
×

Image

Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.

Proceedings published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine chronicle the presentations and discussions at a workshop, symposium, or other event convened by the National Academies. The statements and opinions contained in proceedings are those of the participants and are not endorsed by other participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies.

For information about other products and activities of the National Academies, please visit www.nationalacademies.org/about/whatwedo.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
×

COMMITTEE ON THE POTENTIAL FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY TO ADDRESS FOREST HEALTH

Chair

SUSAN E. OFFUTT, U.S. Government Accountability Office (retired), Oakland, MD

Members

VIKRAM E. CHHATRE, University of Wyoming, Laramie

JASON A. DELBORNE, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

STEPHEN DIFAZIO, West Virginia University, Morgantown

DORIA R. GORDON, Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, DC

INÉS IBÁÑEZ, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

GREGORY JAFFE, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, DC

MARK D. NEEDHAM, Oregon State University, Corvallis

CLARE PALMER, Texas A&M University, College Station

JEANNE ROMERO-SEVERSON, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

RONALD R. SEDEROFF (NAS), North Carolina State University, Raleigh

DIANA L. SIX, University of Montana, Missoula

RICHARD A. SNIEZKO, U.S. Forest Service, Cottage Grove, OR

Staff

KARA N. LANEY, Study Director

JENNA BRISCOE, Research Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
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BOARD ON AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Chair

CHARLES W. RICE, Kansas State University, Manhattan

Members

SHANE C. BURGESS, University of Arizona, Tucson

SUSAN CAPALBO, Oregon State University, Corvallis

GAIL CZARNECKI-MAULDEN, Nestlé Purina PetCare, St. Louis, MO

GEBISA EJETA, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

JAMES S. FAMIGLIETTI, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

FRED GOULD (NAS), North Carolina State University, Raleigh

DOUGLAS B. JACKSON-SMITH, The Ohio State University, Wooster

JAMES W. JONES (NAE), University of Florida, Gainesville

STEPHEN S. KELLEY, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

JAN E. LEACH, Colorado State University, Fort Collins

JILL J. McCLUSKEY, Washington State University, Pullman

KAREN I. PLAUT, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

JIM E. RIVIERE (NAM), Kansas State University, Manhattan

Staff

ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director

CAMILLA YANDOC ABLES, Senior Program Officer

JENNA BRISCOE, Research Assistant

KARA N. LANEY, Senior Program Officer

PEGGY TSAI YIH, Senior Program Officer

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
×

Preface

Nearly one-third of the United States is covered by forests, accounting for more than 1 million square miles, an area exceeded only in Brazil, Canada, and Russia. These forest ecosystems play vital roles in carbon storage, nutrient cycling, and air and water purification, as well as in supplying habitat for wildlife. Forests hold historical, cultural, and social significance for Americans and are sources of both food and fiber. Today, these valued resources are endangered as never before. Global commerce has hastened the introduction of nonnative, invasive tree pests and diseases, and those native to the country are becoming more virulent due to external drivers such as climate change. The loss of a tree species can have cascading adverse effects on the forest ecosystem and on the range of services it provides and the values it represents to human populations.

Against this backdrop, a consortium of federal agencies asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to consider the potential for the use of biotechnology to mitigate these threats to the health of the nation’s forests. Accordingly, our committee took up the tasks of assessing the ecological, economic, and social implications of deployment of a genetically modified tree and of identifying the knowledge needed to evaluate the ways such a tree might affect the prospects for forest health. The circumstances of introduction of a long-lived biotech tree into a forest ecosystem would be novel compared with the use of the technology in industrial plantations or, indeed, in annual agricultural crops. The release of a tree developed to be resistant to a pest or disease would be intended to promote its survival and proliferation in a natural forest setting.

The committee’s members represent an unusually wide range of disciplines, from genetics to ecology and from the law to social science and philosophy. The group embraced the holistic view set out in its charge and probed the biophysical and the cultural and social impacts that might arise from the introduction of a biotech tree. Contemplating the rapidly evolving science and emerging public views relevant to the use of biotechnology in forest trees, the committee found itself surveying a frontier of possibilities for different kinds of trees and ecosystems. The release of a biotech tree has no direct precedent, and so the committee listened to a range of voices in the scientific community and in civil society as they speculated on the likely implications of an introduction. Unease about the advisability of the use of biotechnology in the environment will continue to be a

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
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factor in public dialogue as biotech trees are considered further. As might be imagined, the committee’s discussions have been lively as we have tried to accommodate a diversity of perspectives, anticipate key information needs, and chart the way forward for researchers, government scientific and regulatory officials, and society at large.

None of the work the committee has done would have been possible without the stalwart support of Kara Laney, study director, and Jenna Briscoe, research assistant, of the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources. Kara has been a gracious and steadying presence as we have tried to meld our disparate thoughts into a cohesive narrative. In our meetings, Jenna was a wizard when it came to listening to our fragmented discussion and transforming it instantly into text that we could see and use to move deliberations forward. All of the members of our committee have invested significant time and energy in meeting the challenge of our task, and I am grateful for their dedication. I have learned much from their expertise and their wisdom, and I am the better for it. Finally, thanks go to those who reviewed our draft report and provided comments and advice that have made it a better product for our sponsors and for the public concerned with the future of America’s forests.

Susan E. Offutt, Chair

Committee on the Potential for Biotechnology to Address Forest Health

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
×

Acknowledgments

This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Sally N. Aitken, University of British Columbia

Ann M. Bartuska, Resources for the Future

Steven P. Bradbury, Iowa State University

Joseph P. Brewer II, University of Kansas

John E. Carlson, The Pennsylvania State University

Melissa M. Goldstein, The George Washington University

Shannon M. Hagerman, University of British Columbia

Lynn A. Maguire, Duke University

Louis Pitelka, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Ronald Sandler, Northeastern University

Roger R. Schmidt, IBM Corporation

Kathleen Segerson, University of Connecticut

Daniel Simberloff, University of Tennessee

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
×

the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by May R. Berenbaum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
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Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
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Selected Acronyms and Abbreviations

APHIS Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Bt Bacillus thuringiensis
CFR Code of Federal Regulations
CRISPR Clustered Regularly-Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats
EA Environmental Assessment
EAB emerald ash borer
EIS Environmental Impact Statement
EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration
FFDCA Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
FIFRA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
FONSI Finding of No Significant Impact
FWS Fish and Wildlife Service
HERA Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment
Mbp megabase pair
NEPA National Environmental Policy Act
OxO oxalate oxidase
QTL quantitative trait locus
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25221.
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PERAL Plant Epidemiology and Risk Assessment Laboratory
PIP Plant-Incorporated Protectant
RNAi RNA interference
USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture
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The American chestnut, whitebark pine, and several species of ash in the eastern United States are just a few of the North American tree species that have been functionally lost or are in jeopardy of being lost due to outbreaks of pathogens and insect pests. New pressures in this century are putting even more trees at risk. Expanded human mobility and global trade are providing pathways for the introduction of nonnative pests for which native tree species may lack resistance. At the same time, climate change is extending the geographic range of both native and nonnative pest species.

Biotechnology has the potential to help mitigate threats to North American forests from insects and pathogens through the introduction of pest-resistant traits to forest trees. However, challenges remain: the genetic mechanisms that underlie trees’ resistance to pests are poorly understood; the complexity of tree genomes makes incorporating genetic changes a slow and difficult task; and there is a lack of information on the effects of releasing new genotypes into the environment.

Forest Health and Biotechnology examines the potential use of biotechnology for mitigating threats to forest tree health and identifies the ecological, economic, and social implications of deploying biotechnology in forests. This report also develops a research agenda to address knowledge gaps about the application of the technology.

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