Scientists Build a Better Potato
... or at least one that seems resistant to blight
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2014 2:34 PM CST
File photo of Desiree potatoes.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – It's about 175 years late for those who perished in the Irish Potato Famine, but British researchers think they've created a potato resistant to blight, reports the Irish Times. They borrowed a gene from a South American spud and added it to the common Desiree potato. After three years of crop tests, they've declared success in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Not one of their potatoes fell victim to fungus, as opposed to regular potatoes planted nearby, reports the Scotsman.

Researchers already have licensed the product to a US company but expect slower going with EU regulators over the genetically modified crop. "This kind of product will likely be on the US market within a couple of years, and if we are lucky within eight to 10 years in Europe," the not-so-happy lead scientist from Sainsbury Laboratory tells the BBC. Proponents say the potato will reduce the need for chemicals to protect crops, but skeptics says the "GM" label will be enough to put off consumers. And how do they taste? Researchers weren't allowed to eat any, so that's not known. (Last year, scientists zeroed in on the specific pathogen responsible for the famine.)

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Showing 3 of 51 comments
blackbeered
Feb 22, 2014 10:08 AM CST
The tree-huggers would rather starve than eat a GMO.
Ezekiel 25:17
Feb 18, 2014 8:25 PM CST
Saw a PBS production on how the famine could easily return because the US basically only grows one variety on a mass production scale. That serves all fast food, schools, restaurants, and canneries. I believe its called the Yukon Gold. I remember when a local chain called, "Western Sizzlin" tried an experiment that I think was great but ill advised. All of the sudden they started serving an Arizona potato that was as large as the whole plate. It was easily 10" by 4". My grandmother said, "Oh, that's just crazy, there is no such thing." So we couldn't wait until the next Sunday to prove her wrong. Holy $hit, they served her a potato that was easily 12"x5". It only lasted a couple months and they finally returned back to normal size. It turns out the owner of the chain lived a few homes down from ours. He was just a regular smoe. So my dad asked him about the potatoes and he said he always pre-ordered his shipments months in advance to help cut down on costs. It happens Arizona had a once in a lifetime period of very cold nights and very hot days. I have never seen those potatoes since.
Tm1
Feb 18, 2014 11:51 AM CST
Does this mean the Irish can all go back home?