The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, has applied to Defra for consent to release genetically modified potatoes for trials work.
According to a document submitted by the applicant and published on the Defra website, entitled ‘Part B Information about the release application to be included on the public register’, the potato plants have been genetically modified to improve different traits including resistance to Phytophthora infestans, the organism responsible for late blight; resistance to potato cyst nematodes (PCN); and improved tuber quality.
The application says that the plants are planned to be released at two locations. The first is Rothamsted Research, Brooms Barn, Hertfordshire, where the field trial is intended to start in June 2019 and continue until November 30, 2019. The second is a NIAB trial site in Cambridge. The experiments are intended to continue in 2020 and 2021, with plantings at the first and second locations from April 1 until November 30 in both years.
Since 2001, The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich says it has been working towards identifying, mapping and isolating resistance genes from potato that confer resistance against potato late blight.
According to the application, the main goals of the proposed release are:
Even though some of the plants carry genes related to nematode resistance, this trait is said not to be within the scope of the proposed trial.
Defra is inviting representations on any risks of damage being caused to the environment by the release applied for in the application, which must be received by April 22, 2019.