In the United Kingdom, farming minister George Eustice (DEFRA) has approved a four-year trial of genetically modified (GM) potatoes at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich between 2017 and 2021.
The trial site, which is at the John Innes Centre, must meet various restrictions, including maintaining a width of 20 metres around the GM plants, and not exceed 1,000 sq m in size.
The field trials are part of TSL’s Potato Partnership Project to develop a Maris Piper potato that is blight and nematode resistant, bruises less and produces less acrylamide when cooked at high temperatures.
Professor Jonathan Jones welcomed the decision:
“I am delighted that we have approval for the field trials necessary to test our potato plants in standard field conditions.”
“We anticipate that the combination of resistance genes we will test this time will be even more difficult for late blight to overcome than the single gene we previously field tested, but the proof of the pudding is in the planting.”
Anti-GM campaigners have criticised the decision, saying that field trials will be conducted without the usual preceding glasshouse experiments.
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