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Heinrich concludes his op-ed by crossing his fingers once again. “It is possible to bring back the American chestnut to the forests where it belongs without genetic engineering,” he asserts. “In the meantime, I’ll be roasting my own homegrown chestnuts in the peace of my cabin in the Maine woods. It is a sacred act for me. If the trees were wheat-gene tweaked freaks, I don’t believe I would have much appetite for their nuts.”
Declaring something "sacred" is not science; it's pure mysticism. Heinrich evidently believes that American chestnuts are better dead than bred using a wheat gene. Heinrich’s anecdotal experience provides no assurance that "it is possible" to return American chestnut trees to the eastern forests without recourse to modern biotechnology or crossbreeding. While Heinrich might suffer some metaphysical dyspepsia, using human ingenuity to restore these majestic giants to their rightful place will be a gift to the rest of us.
Disclosure: I have re-upped my membership in the American Chestnut Foundation.