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A potato revolt in the Peruvian Andes

Janet Babin Jul 19, 2007


Lisa Napoli: In Peru, the crop feeds millions and adds to the nation’s GDP. One region of Peru is breaking with the national government.

Today, it’s going to announcing a ban on genetically modified potato seeds. From the Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio, Janet Babin reports.

Janet Babin: About 1.2 million people live in the Andes town Cuzco. A majority of them are subsistence farmers who depend heavily on the potato. Some farmers are also trying to create a market for their organic spuds in Lima and the U.S.

But the farmers fear genetically modified potato (GM) seeds will contaminate their supply through wind pollination.

Krystyna Swiderska is with the International Institute for Environment and Development. She says Cuzco’s effort’s could set a precedent.

Krystyna Swiderska: The national government is trying to promote GM potatoes and GM crops in general in Peru. But a local government has stood up and said “No we don’t want it”— because it’s responding to the local people.

A group in Lima this month introduced a GM spud that can resist some insects. The U.S., Egypt and Africa are reportedly developing similar varieties.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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