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  • Western Mountains: October Meeting & Program

Western Mountains: October Meeting & Program

  • 10/10/2019
  • 7:00 PM
  • Frostburg State University, Compton Science Center, Room 327

Topic: Forest Health & Biotechnology 

Speaker: Dr. Susan Offutt, Chief Economist, US Government Accountability Office (retired)

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. 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. Offutt will discuss the findings of a study that she recently chaired by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine titled “Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations.” The report recommends research and investment to improve the utility of biotechnology as a forest health tool. It is available for a free download at

For the last three years, Offutt has served as senior consultant to the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Until her retirement from federal service, she was chief economist at the U.S. Government Accountability Office for eight years. Before joining GAO, she served as administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service for 10 years. Susan began her career on the faculty of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She received a master’s degree and a doctorate in agricultural economics from Cornell University. She and her husband reside in Oakland.

This free program will begin promptly at 7:00 pm; the public is welcome to attend.

Directions: From I-68 take exit 33 (Braddock Rd & Midlothian Rd exit). Follow Braddock Road approximately 1.3 miles to stop sign. Turn left onto Park Avenue. Drive a short distance and turn left, following signs for the Compton Parking Lot.

No registration.

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