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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: For the first time in three years, the British government has approved trials of a genetically-modified crop. It’s a potato designed to resist blight. Biotech companies are hoping the new product will lift the consumer resistance that has “blighted” genetic technology in Europe. From London, Stephen Beard has the story.
STEPHEN BEARD: The new crop, developed by the German company BASF, could save farmers a lot of money. In Britain alone blight ruins $100 million worth of potatoes a year. Worldwide it could be $4 billion worth.
The genetically modified potato is blight-resistant. It contains a gene from a wild variety of Mexican spud that’s naturally immune to the disease.
If the trials approved today are successful, this could be a turning point for a highly controversial technology says Barry Sticking of BASF :
BARRY STICKING: We believe that this is a product that will achieve commercial acceptance will receive consumer acceptance.
British consumers have so far rejected all GM crops, and one of Britain’s biggest potato product manufacturers opposed the new field trial on the grounds that it might damage the way all potatoes are perceived.
In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.