BASF has stated that it has given an application to Defra for conducting trials of genetically modified blight resistant potatoes in the UK and this has again shifted the attention over the question as to whether or not GM has got a place in UK agriculture. Meanwhile as the deadline for responses to the Government’s GM co-existence consultation comes closer there seems to be a divided opinion as ever. A straw poll on ‘Should we grow GM potatoes in the UK?’ which was conducted by Farmers Guardian showed that the respondents were divided on this question. Also a number of questions have been raised regarding the blight control in the UK. These questions are: Is there blight resistance available in conventionally-bred potato varieties? Is it becoming more difficult and expensive? Are the BASF GM varieties resistant to the A2 blight strain?
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When in 2005, farmers had brought ninety million hectares under GM crop, five European countries were also party to it. Though the U.K government feels that there is no scientific finding which calls for blanket ban on GM crops still GM crop is not being grown on a commercial scale in the country. Now the farmers of the country want that they would like to reap the benefits of biotechnology and grow these crops on their farmland. These farmers have realized that these crops offer them higher productivity. The confidence of the farmers in this technology can be judged from this statement of Bob Fiddaman who said: We were getting anything from 10 to 15 percent increased yield from the GM part of the crop referencing results from the field scale trials on herbicide-tolerant oil seed rape conducted on his UK farm. Given the opportunity, I’d grow it tomorrow. The technology was that good. It seems the farmers are quite confident about this technology but whether the government commands as much of the confidence needs to be seen.