Can genetic engineering save the redwoods?
A group of tree-lovers wants to save giant redwoods by cloning existing trees, reports The New York Times.
There are a couple of problems with this plan:
- Giant redwoods are three things: red, wood, and GIANT. Where are you going to put them? (The group says they have plans for slightly more travel-sized trees as well.)
- Cloning (from cuttings) is actually a pretty common way to propagate trees, but we’re talking about growing new baby trees in an environment 2,000 years removed from the one they’re adapted to. They might not have the defenses they need to survive in a modern forest.
- It’s hard to know which trees are the best to clone. Just being the biggest doesn’t mean you’re genetically the most successful — a big tree could just have seeded itself in a fortunate spot.
Still, cloning ancient flora sounds a hell of a lot safer than cloning ancient fauna. And redwoods are “carbon sequestration superstars," so upping their population could be good for everyone.
From Ancient Giants, Finding New Life to Help the Planet, New York Times.