Research shows GM potato variety combined with new management techniques can cut fungicide use by up to 90%
Teagasc have concluded their field study which investigated both the environmental and agronomic impact of a GM potato variety genetically engineered to resist late blight disease, caused by Phytophthora infestans.
Potato late blight can rapidly destroy potato crops with growers commonly having to resort to spraying their crops with fungicides on a near weekly basis.
Teagasc research indicates that combining a cisgenic blight resistant potato with advanced Integrated management systems can reduce the environmental impact of potato production by over 95pc.
As part of the EU funded ‘AMIGA’ project and in collaboration with Wageningen University, Teagasc looked at issues such as the efficacy of disease control and the resulting environmental impact during cultivation of a susceptible potato variety (Désirée) and two different resistant potato varieties: Sarpo Mira, developed through conventional breeding, and a resistant version of the Désirée which received a resistance gene from a wild potato through cisgenesis.
Cisgenesis allows enrichment of existing potato varieties in as little as 3 years versus current potato breeding programmes that require 12 years or more to produce a novel variety.
After undergoing independent peer-review, the findings from 3 years of field evaluations have been published in the scientific journals European Journal of Agronomy and BMC Ecology.
The research, conducted in both The Netherlands and Ireland, has concluded that integrated production strategies that include varieties with enhanced genetic resistance against late blight disease can reduce the average fungicide input by 80-90pc, without compromising control efficacy or yield.
This can provide more durable control options for farmers while significantly reducing the crop’s environmental footprint.