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Idaho growers eye BASF's new GM potato

November 10, 2011
More than a decade has passed since Jim Tiede was among the growers caught up in a debacle over the first U.S. genetically modified potato variety.

Even today, the American Falls, Idaho, farmer copes with the fallout of planting Monsanto's GM potato New Leaf, as processors still ask him to submit a certificate proving his fields are testing free of its patented gene.

Now Tiede, chairman of the Idaho Potato Commission, will be an observer as Europe reacts to a new GM table spud, Fortuna, developed by German-based BASF Plant Science.

Aside from the critics' visceral concerns about so-called "Frankenfoods,"Tiede found nothing wrong with New Leaf, developed in the mid-1990s to resist Colorado potato beetles and some viruses. Though New Leaf could be grown with 80 percent less pesticide, Monsanto discontinued the program in 2001 due to a lack of acceptance of a GM potato by key markets and trade partners.

Tiede is hopeful that Fortuna, modified for resistance to late blight, may reopen the door for GM potatoes in the U.S.

Related PotatoPro Newsletter: The History and Future of GM Potatoes
Companies in this Article
BASF is the world's leading chemical company. Specific for the potato industry BASF is a provider of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. BASF is developing GM potato varieties, e.g. for the potato starch industry. BASF is also a manufacturer of various food ingredients. 
The Idaho Potato Commission is a state agency with many responsibilities, including the promotion of Idaho Potatoes.