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A Secret Experiment of Genetically Modified Potato Crops Discovered in England

A Secret Experiment of Genetically Modified Potato Crops Discovered in England

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(OrganicJar) A field of genetically modified (GM) potatoes – created to be resistant to pests – was planted in a Yorkshire field earlier this year by Leeds University scientists.

Last year, environmental activists ripped up a field of identical plants on the same farm, causing more than US $40,000 damage and wasting months of research work. The 400 potato plants are resistant to nematode worms, which cost British farmers around $107 million a year. GM scientists say the new strain could lead to a cut in chemical pesticide use.

The crop is growing next to plants that will be destroyed once the experiment is complete; the field will then be left fallow to reduce the risk of cross-pollination.

gm_crops

To reduce the risk of vandalism, scientists have surrounded the new experimental field with fencing and CCTV cameras to protect against vandals.

GM crops have been grown near a farm in Yorkshire amid a storm of controversy, which also followed a similar trial on a farm near Cambridgeshire last year. Although details of the trial were published on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website, locals were not told that the crop had been replanted.

Defra said its permission for the trial, granted for three years, remained valid and that the potatoes can be replanted without further notice. It also said the potatoes would not be used for human or animal consumption and that they would be grown in a ‘safe environment’ with no risk of contamination. Supporters of the technology say it will allow plants to be grown in arid andsalty places where ordinary crops fail — and could prevent a worldwide food shortage in years to come.

However, environmental activists warned that neighbouring farms could be put at risk from the GM experiment. Clare Oxborrow, of Friends of the Earth, said: “Defra clearly does not want people to known it is going on this year. This worries us because farmers, gardeners and people living nearby should know about it because of the risk of contaminating other plants. They are trying to slip it under the radar.”

Defra said published details and map references of all GM experiments on its website and denied that it tried to keep people in the dark.

Vandals and eco-campaigners have destroyed almost all of the 54 attempts to grow experimental GM plants outdoors in the UK in the last five years. A GM trial in Cambridgeshire was abandoned last year when trees were ripped up.

Last year Prof Howard Atkinson, who is leading the Leeds experiment, called for details of small-scale GM trials to be kept secret from the public, claiming it cost around $165,000 to install security fences and guards at a GM field trial.

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Source: dailymail.co.uk

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  1. The news of this GM potato crop intrigues me since 99% of all potatoes grown in the world are grown from tubers rather than from seeds–they are genetic clones of their parent plants. Potatoes grown in a field may produce flowers but they are not in any way connected to the current crop growing under the soil and rarely do any potato seeds get a chance to sprout and grow potato plants. There is no risk of cross pollination between GM potatoes and adjoining heirloom potatoes.

    Annoyingly, Organic Jar doesn’t give any links to the information they used to write the story so it is impossible to determine exactly what concern they have about GM Potatoes. If the secrecy is the problem then Organic Jar should know as well as anyone that governments carry out thousands of experiments all the time–many much worse than a field of potatoes.

    Quote: Although details of the trial were published on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website, locals were not told that the crop had been replanted.

    Again, no links!–the Defra website has thousands of pages of information including 174 pages that refer to potatoes. Exactly what information are you referring to?

    Quote: But environmental campaigners warned that neighboring farms could be put at risk from the GM experiment.

    What kind of risk? How can neighboring farms have any sort of risk at all involving non-pollinating crops? Using the word RISK may get readers alarmed but without any specifics, it is impossible to figure out what Organic Jar is worried about. I would guess that the greatest risk to neighboring crops would be getting vandalized by eco-terrorists that don’t realize where the property lines are or which crops are GM and which are not.

    Quote: ‘This worries us because farmers, gardeners and people living nearby should know about it because of the risk of contaminating other plants. They are trying to slip it under the radar.’

    There is ZERO risk of this crop contaminating any other potato crop since potatoes do not use pollination to reproduce.

    Articles like this (with no supporting evidence, based on groundless and completely false information) discredit the whole natural food movement and do much more harm than good.

  2. Thanks for this report – I always though Europeans were MUCH more careful with GE crops (compared to the US etc). But at least there is protest!

  3. I think the reason for secrecy might have more to do with a history of vandalism. It seems like they’re going to do their best not to cross contaminate anything- even if it’s only to avoid ruining their research.

  4. It is one thing trying to make genetically modified crop experiments secret to protect them from activists, but what about the bees? Will they distinguish between GM and Natural crops? Of course not, and the results of any cross pollination are anybody’s guess. Once the Genie is out of the bottle you can’t put him back and this is what the activists are trying to stop in the first place.

  5. We should thank you for hosting such a wonderful website. this website was not only useful but also very stimulating too. There are a limited number of people who can think to create not so easy stuff that creatively. we are on the lookout for information on something like this. We ourselves went through several websites to come across information about this.Keep me informed when you write more on the subject !!

  6. “A Secret Experiment of Genetically Modified Potato Crops Discovered in England”

    “details of the trial were published on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website”

    How very secretive. :rolleyes:

    Jonathan

  7. Yesterday, USAToday had an article that mentioned that low levels of GM pesticides are allowed in organic potatoes. Does anyone have any information about this? I can’t find confirmaton.

    Thanks.

  8. Burn. Them. All.

  9. Like the man said, burn them, burn them all.

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