Technology Puts American Chestnut Trees on the Comeback Trail

WASHINGTON—More than a century after blight decimated the American chestnut tree, the U.S. government is weighing whether to allow a genetically engineered version to spread in the wild.

The impending decision has unleashed a ferocious debate over the promises and perils of genetic engineering among legions of chestnut enthusiasts. Some have been preparing for years in hopes that a genetically modified tree that can withstand blight will revive once-mighty chestnut forests. Others warn that could have unintended environmental consequences.