I’ve reported many time on efforts to restore the American chestnut with a genetically modified version that isn’t affected by the blight. (Here’s a story from last June.) If approved by regulators, it was going to be the first GMO tree released in the wild.

Or not.

The NY Times has a story today that I spotted via Slashdot, concerning poplar trees that have been genetically modified to grow faster and are being planted in Georgia. How’d they get approval so fast?

But for the trees they planted in Georgia, they turned to an older and cruder technique known as the gene gun method, which essentially blasts foreign genes into the trees’ chromosomes. … The gene gun-modified poplars avoided a set of federal regulations of genetically modified organisms that can stall biotech projects for years. (Those regulations have since been revised.)

Must be frustrating for the Cornell SUNY and Maine scientists who have been patiently wading through regulations with their CRISPR-edited chestnuts.

The story notes that so far the trees have only been grown in greenhouses and “experience over the years is that the greenhouse means almost nothing about the outdoor prospects of trees whose physiology has been modified” so we’ll see what happens.

The whole Times story is here.

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