GM potatoes beat beetle

20 March 1998

GM potatoes beat beetle

GENETICALLY modified potatoes from Canada are heading for Ukraine to battle with the troublesome colorado beetle.

The beetle chews through 40% of Ukraines 1.8m-hectare (4.5m-acre) potato crop each year. It is hoped the new GM varieties, which interfere with the digestion of the beetle so it can no longer eat, will help eliminate the pest.

An initial shipment of 355t of GM seed potatoes resistant to Colorado beetle included the varieties Russet Burbank, Atlantic and Superior.

The effort is being co-ordinated by Solanum-PEI, a joint venture company set up by the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture in Canada and biotech company Monsanto.

Trials last year showed how Colorado beetles nibble potato plants then crawl away to die. Solanum-PEI hopes sales to Ukraine sales will lead to further business in Romania, Russia, Poland, Turkey and other European countries. &#42

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