Potatoes - DEFRA approves GM trials

The Government has approved (Mar 2010) an application from British scientists to plant GM potatoes in a field trial. The researchers have been given permission to continue their work on plants with resistance to potato cyst nematodes. They believe that the gene technology could save British growers up to 40 million a year.

Dr Peter Urwin, of the University of Leeds, said that his first GM potato trials, carried out in 2008 and 2009, were successful, hence the application for a new licence to continue the work. He said that pest resistant potatoes could be essential if key pesticides are removed from the market under new EU safety regulations.

DEFRA gave approval for the trials after a public consultation and evaluation by an independent expert group, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE). ACRE said that its members were satisfied that the proposed study will not result in any adverse effect on human health or the environment.

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