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Swiss want to grow GM potatoes

The Swiss Agricultural Research Institute, Agroscope, wants to try growing genetically modified potatoes on the Reckenholz test area in Zurich-Affoltern, reports the Swiss website Blick.ch. Agroscope has applied for a request at the 'Bundesamt für Umwelt' (BAFU) (Federal Office for the Environment).

The goal of the test is to be able to grow potatoes that are resistant to phytophthora. Phytophthora is a fungal infection that has caused global crop failure. Researchers in the Netherlands have already managed to add resistant genes from wild potatoes to table potatoes. In field trials these tubers already showed good resistance to the sickness, as reported by Agroscope Tuesday. 

With it's own field trial Agroscope wants to test whether these potatoes are also resistant to the common strain of this pathogen found in Switzerland. The use of such potatoes could reduce the use of pesticides.

The genetically modified potatoes will be planted March 2015. The test will take five years. However, BAFU still has to give permission for this test to be executed. 



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