GM Potato: The Need For Future

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GM Potatoes

GM POTATO or Genetically Modified Potato (अनुवंशिकीय परिवर्तित आलू, in Hindi) is a cultivar or potato. It is developed by modifying its genomic sequence.

General Information: Potato

TypeVegetable plant/crop, tuber crop.
English NamePotato
Hindi Nameआलू
Scientific NameSolanum tuberosum
FamilySolanaceae
2n2n = 2x = 48. It is tetraploid.
OriginIt is native to Americas.

Potential

  • Pest resistance.
  • Improving chemicals produced inside the tuber.
  • Producing more and more amount of starch.
  • Increased yield.

About GM Potato

Despite the continuing controversy surrounding GM crops, the global growth of transgenic crops has continued to increase at more in the past decades. More than the seven million farmers in 18 countries grow GM crops. Combined GM crop areas for the 11 developing countries account for approximately 30% of the global GM area.

The four commercialized GM crops are as follows:

Soyabean, Maize, Cotton and canola (oilseed rape).

Also Read: Potato Cultivation:: Tuber Rot and Other Problems Tubers Failed to Germinate

Herbicide tolerance is the dominant trait followed by insect resistance in maize and cotton. In addition to these financial benefits, GM crops have a significant capacity to increase sustainable agricultural production (benefit
benefiting the environment), productivity (thereby contributing to global feed and fibre production), save labour and improve health.

Despite the rapid international development of plant biotechnology, under-developed countries face significant challenges relating to how they can best access and deploy the technology. The major issues include: the appropriateness of the technology to the under-developed country’s need, development costs, high regulatory costs, intellectual property, health and safety, environmental impact, identity preservation and internal and overseas markets.

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Potatoes being the fourth most important global crop offer a significant target for genetic modification fetching low yields in locally developed cultivars through conventional approach. Potatoes are tetraploid with a narrow genetic base under suffer from significant number of pests and diseases that could be minimized with biotechnology solutions.

A recent study has revealed that a successful introduction of a GM late blight resistant potato on 100% of European acreage would eliminate 7.5 million kg of fungicides, increase production by 858 million kilograms and increase grower net income by €417 million per annum. Interestingly, the biggest impact on grower net income was estimated for blight resistant potatoes rather than for herbicide tolerant maize, wheat, sugar beet and canola or insect resistant maize.

Monsanto’s Nature Mark® developed several GM cultivars of potato resistant to Colorado potato beetle, potato leaf roll virus, tolerance to rhe herbicide Roundup® and with anti bruise technology. Several of these cultivars received regulatory approvals. However, there was a low adoption rate of the technology largely due to consumer skepticism and the need for other chemical control strategies.

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Therefore, who will pay for the development and launch of appropriate potato cultivars for both developed and developing countries?

China is one of the highest years after year grower of GM crops like cotton, brinjal, maize, rice, canola too. Thus china may offer a significant opportunity for the development of GM potatoes. Though, the yields of potato are two to three fourth lower than in developed countries but the area is continuous to grow every year. This is because, the taste for western eating habits, and particularly potato products, is increasing significantly and consumers acceptability for the benefits of GM technology.

China appears to be unable to meet the demand for high quality potatoes for processing and thus, frozen potato imports has increased. Unlike other countries, the majority of GM field trials are targeted towards pest and disease resistance and, as was discussed earlier, the most significant gains for European GM crops are estimated to be for blight resistant potatoes rather than herbicide or insect resistant cereals in Europe.

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Varieties

Innate Potato (used in food)

Approved ByUSA and US FDA.
Developed ByJ. R. Simplot Company
Developed AgainstBlackspot, bruising and browning
Characteristic(s)Les amount of amino acid asparagine, does not use any genetic material from other species.
TechnologyRNA interference
StatusCurrently marketed

NewLeaf (used for food)

Released ByMonsanto
AgainstColorado potato beetle
Used TechnologyBacillus thuringiensis
StatusDiscontinued

Amflora (Industrial use)

Released ByBASF Plant Science
AimLarge starch production
StatusDiscontinued

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Conclusion

Tremendous opportunities exist for exploiting biotechnology genetically to enhance potato production. Nevertheless, governments and international aid organizations may support financially for developing the GM potatoes appropriate for the developing countries.

While planning-

  1. Which traits and cultivars should be developed?
  2. Funding bodies should be considered in consulting with national and regional bodies in developing countries to identify region specific priorities.

The coordination and collaboration of research organizations will facilitate these development issues.

Some Other Facts

  • Bangladesh has developed their own GM potato against blight.

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Last Updated: 31-03-2021


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