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Biotech Bits

Researchers at the U.K.'s John Innes Center's (JIC) Sainsbury Laboratory are hoping to begin field trials of transgenic blight-resistant potatoes in May, if the government approves. The JIC is planning a three-year field trial program, with the first results expected to be announced by the end of this year. Some 400 potato plants would be grown at the Norwich Research Park under tight security conditions in an effort to prevent the destruction of the crop by anti-biotech protesters. JIC researchers have identified two key genes from a wild potato variety resistant to Phytophthera infestans, a pest that costs the industry more than £3.5 billion ($5.2 billion) annually in pesticide costs and crop losses.

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