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Crop Biotech Update

TEAGASC to Investigate Environmental Impact of GM Blight Resistant Potatoes

August 3, 2012

Realizing the need to utilize late blight resistant GM potatoes to control the devastating disease, the government of Ireland has recently approved field testing of the GM crop in Ireland. Parallel to this, an environmental impact assessment needs to be conducted that would assess the environmental impact of growing GM potatoes in Ireland and monitoring how the pathogen, which causes blight, reacts to GM varieties in the field over several seasons. This is the task assigned to Teagasc, the Irish Food and Agriculture Authority.

Teagasc researcher Dr. Ewen Mullins said: "We cannot 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 in carefully controlled conditions. 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."

Once the regulatory paperwork is completed, the research will commence at the Teagasc Crops Research Centre in Oak Park, Carlow. The team will also launch an outreach program with stakeholders and the public to coincide with the establishment of the experiment, to facilitate an inclusive and impartial discussion on the issues that most concern people.

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