Jun. 10, 2010
A CROP of genetically modified (GM) potatoes was planted in Norfolk on Tuesday as work began at the Sainsbury Laboratory to investigate blight resistance.
The trial will see two sets of plants grown in the field, each one carrying a different gene which researchers hope will give resistance against the disease.
It is hoped the work will help develop new, resistant varieties of potato, helping to reduce the amount of fungicides used by British farmers.
Professor Jonathan Jones from the Sainsbury Laboratory on Norwich Research Park said: “We have isolated genes from two different wild potato species that confer blight resistance.
"Similar genes are found in all plants, and we are now testing whether these ones work in a field environment to protect a commercial potato variety, Desiree, against this destructive potato disease.”
The plantings were condemned by the anti-GM lobby which claimed it was a waste of public money to trial an unwanted technology on British farms.
Friends of the Earth’s Food Campaigner Kirtana Chandrasekaran said: “The Government is wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money by forging ahead with unnecessary and unpopular GM crops trials, which threaten local farmers with contamination.
"We can feed a growing global population without trashing the planet or resorting to factory farms and GM crops - the Government must help farmers shift to planet-friendly farming.”