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Irish Greens in stew over GM spud

Blight-resistant tuber controversy

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Ireland's Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a request from German chemicals giant BASF to conduct field trials of a genetically-modified, blight-resistant potato, Reuters reports.

BASF has created several strains of blight-resistant spud since 2003 when researchers discovered a Mexican wild potato, which is naturally resistant to the disease - the cause of the 1845 Irish potato famine which killed around one million people.

The GM potato proposal is likely to attract plenty of public attention in the Emerald Isle as the Irish are Europe's most enthusiastic consumers of potatoes, working their way through an impressive 121kg (around 1,000 spuds) per person per year. Previous GMO trials have been physically attacked by protestors, and both the Green Party and Sinn Fein say the application must be turned down.

Green party supremo Trevor Sargent said: "Genetically modified crops are likely to contaminate our conventional and organic produce. But the Green Party will continue to fight any predatory tactics of any GM food company, to undermine the viability of Ireland as a green, clean, food producing island."

The EPA will "review submissions from the public regarding potential health and environmental risks within the next 28 days". ®

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