Blight-resistant GM potatoes

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The latest stage of field trials conducted by The Sainsbury Laboratory for a genetically modified (GM) potato with improved tuber quality and resistance to the devastating disease like blight has progressed successfully. The field trials were conducted after successful lab experiments to modify Maris Piper potatoes with late blight resistance genes from Solanum americanum and S. venturii, wild relatives of potato. To improve tuber quality, the modified Maris Piper lines also have genes switched off – or “silenced” – to reduce browning upon bruising and to avoid cold-induced sweetening, the accumulation of reducing sugars during cold storage that causes blackening when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. The Sainsbury Laboratory was granted permission earlier this year by DEFRA to proceed with three years of field trials in controlled conditions.