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  GM potato trials confirmed

Tuesday 05 December 2006
fieldA new field trial for GM potatoes in the UK, which was confirmed by ministers last week, has been slammed by green groups for opening up the risk of contamination of conventional and organic crops. The BASF-produced blight-resistant potato variety will be grown at two sites in Derbyshire and Cambridgeshire from April of next year. The trials will run for a period of five years.

The trials were originally applied to be carried out in Ireland, but BASF withdrew following strict conditions imposed by Irish authorities.

“These GM trials pose a significant contamination threat to future potato crops,” said Claire Oxborrow, Friends of the Earth GM Campaigner. “We don’t need GM potatoes and there is no consumer demand for them. Even the county council and food industry have raised concerns about the impacts should the trials go ahead.”

Despite the concerns of the environmental campaign group, the Government reports that an evaluation from the Advisory Committee of Releases to the Environment (ACRE) on the potato variety backed the trial’s go-ahead.

“Based on the independent advice we have received, appropriate conditions have been specified for the conduct of the trials, and our GM Inspectorate will ensure that these are met. As the GM potatoes are being grown for research purposes they will not be used for food or animal feed,” commented Environment Minister Ian Pearson.

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