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David Sparks Ph.d Saving Pine Forests
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: November 25, 2016

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During a long conversation with Dr. Steve Strauss who is a genetics professor at Oregon State University I asked a question about something that has been bothering me. “Let’s use manipulation of DNA. How can you manipulate DNA in pine trees so that bark beetles won't like the taste of them? That would be hard. I think that you certainly could do something to make it less tasteful like the corn and cotton in the US, 90% has this DT gene, in the GMO’s, they have an insect toxin in them that is quite specific and so what if you took one that is toxic to beetles and put them in pine trees. Would it work? I'm guessing it probably would. There are other techniques that you could try as well. The problem is that you also have to be producing healthier forests because it is the forests that are under great drought stress, there hasn’t been enough forestry because they have been locked up by environmental groups and laws or it’s uneconomical. They are too dense and all crowded together and under stress. I suspect that there is nothing that will work for trees that are unhealthy so there would have to be a combination of better forest management, better planting, and in some cases other species. My message is that you have to manage them really well, we are not doing that, you could put in genes that would help them but nobody is working on that anywhere in the world.

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