Crop Biotech Update

Teagasc Applies to Field Test Biotech Potatoes

March 2, 2012

Teagasc , the Agriculture and Food Development Authority of Ireland, are applying to the Environmental Protection Agency for a license to conduct field trials of biotech potatoes with resistance to potato late blight disease. The trials aim to determine any possible effects of the technology on ecosystems. The study is expected to be completed in four years, and will take place at the Teagasc Crops Research Center in Carlow, Ireland. The project is part of the Assessing and Monitoring the Impacts of Genetically Modified Plants on Agro-ecosystems (AMIGA) Consortium which aims to evaluate the impacts of GM crops in European environments using scientific data.

Teagasc scientist Dr. Ewen Mullins said: "It is not enough to simply look at the benefits without also considering the potential costs. We need to investigate whether there are long term impacts associated with this specific GM crop and critically we need to gauge how the late blight disease itself responds. This is not just a question being asked in Ireland. The same issues are arising across Europe."

The pathogen (Phytophthora infestans) that caused the Great Famine continues to threaten Irish potato growers. The Teagasc research have confirmed that the biotech potatoes could help decrease the fungicide load on the environment and thus provide economic advantage to farmers.

Read the media release at http://www.teagasc.ie/news/2012/201202-27.asp.