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The government plans to release genetically modified (GM) potato, reportedly capable of resisting late blight disease, during the upcoming season.
“We are planning to apply for the approval for releasing one variety of GM potato at the end of this year,” said Rafiqul Islam Mondol, director general of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI).
BARI has developed GM potatoes by inserting pest and weather-resistant gene in two local potato varieties – Cardinal and Diamond.
“Of the two, we are planning to release only the Diamond variety at the field level this year as we are satisfied with the results,” said Rafiqul.
Late blight is one of the major diseases that damages potato plants and also its production. A resistance gene named Solanum bulbocastanum found in a wild potato variety in Latin American has been used to develop the genetically modified potato varieties in Bangladesh.
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Rafiqul said: “We will send the necessary documents seeking the approval within the next two to three months to the National Bio-safety Committee under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The variety will be released to the farmers.”
The government has been trying to develop GM potato varieties since 2006 from American potato variety transgenic Katahdin SP 951 developed by [Cornell] University.
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The objective for developing GM crop varieties was to improve crop protection mechanism through introducing resistance against plant diseases caused by insects or viruses or through increased tolerance towards herbicides.
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