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UGent trials GM potatoes in Belgium

The Belgian University of Gent, UGent, is conducting field trials on 27 lines of genetically modified late blight ( Phytophthora infestans)-resistant potatoes at Weterren, Belgium. The Dutch Wageningen University & Research Center has developed 26 of the lines, while the remaining line is from BASF. UGent says that conventional breeding efforts over several decades have only led to a few resistant varieties, mostly with the same single functional resistance (R) gene. P infestans isolates resistant to the R gene are already known, it adds. The introduction of another resistance factor would again take several decades. GM lines are now being developed as they allow the introduction of multiple resistance genes. GM technology uses the same natural resistance factors as are introduced through classical breeding, the only difference being the way they are introduced into the plant, UGent emphasises. Potato blight costs Belgian farmers some €55 million ($79 million) annually.


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