[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 August 2006, 06:48 GMT 07:48 UK
GM potatoes for UK 'in 10 years'
Potato
Potato blight is still a major problem in many countries
A chemical company has asked for permission to grow the first trial crop of genetically modified (GM) potatoes in the UK.

BASF says it hopes GM potatoes could be sold in the UK within 10 years.

It says they would be resistant to late blight disease, meaning no need for spraying fields with fungicides, and could save millions in damaged crops.

But environmentalists say consumers do not want GM potatoes even if it means cutting back on chemicals.

We think that farmers ought to have the choice between growing organic crops the traditional way... or crops which are grown from GM varieties
BASF

Two genes from wild potatoes have been discovered which make them resistant to late blight - the disease which caused the Irish potato famine.

The only way to get those genes into new varieties is by genetic modification.

BASF says blight resistance means farmers could avoid losses of up to 50m a year through damaged crops.

It says the trials would take place in Cambridgeshire and Derbyshire.

BASF spokesman Barry Sticking said the application was about providing choice for farmers.

"Farmers ought to have the choice between growing organic crops the traditional way - using fungicides and herbicides - or crops which are grown from GM varieties," he told BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme.

Consumers have already made that choice and that's why all the supermarkets and food companies have stopped using GM ingredients
Friends of the Earth

But Claire Oxborough, from Friends of the Earth, said there was no market for GM goods.

She said: "Consumers have already made that choice and that's why all the supermarkets and food companies have stopped using GM ingredients in their foods.

"They've recognised that people don't want to eat it."

If trials went ahead, crops in future years could be contaminated, she added.


SEE ALSO
Proposals for GM crops launched
20 Jul 06 |  Science/Nature
GM potato is 'blight resistant'
15 Jul 03 |  Northern Ireland
Blight spray clouds organic claims
19 Jun 03 |  Northern Ireland
India 'to approve GM potato'
11 Jun 03 |  Science/Nature
Rival spud promo angers farmers
06 Jun 03 |  Cambridgeshire

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific