GMO potatoes help to reduce pesticide application by up to 90%

Researchers from the University of Wageningen, the Netherlands and the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Teagasc – Ireland) conducted a study demonstrating an effective approach to reduce the use of fungicides in potatoes for control of potato blight based on the application of transgenic plants obtained through cisgenesis (transfer of genes between closely related species) and a new strategy for application of fungicides.

Potato blight causes significant damages to this crop worldwide as the cause of the disease is the water mold Phytophthora infestans. Farmers currently control the disease through weekly spraying with fungicides.

The international team of scientists has developed the method IPM2.0 (Integrated Pest Management) based on growing potato-resistant varieties and monitoring the active pathogen population using a “do not spray unless” strategy. The strategy excludes the use of fungicides until symptoms of the disease appear on the cultivated resistant variety as a result of adaptation of the pathogen. The strategy has been tested for several years in Ireland and the Netherlands on three varieties of potatoes including the susceptible variety Désirée, the resistant variety Sarpo Mira and the resistant version of the Désirée variety obtained through cisgenesis.

The varieties tested were grown under the conditions of both the commonly applied practices including weekly spraying with fungicides and using the IPM2.0 method. Regarding the susceptible Désirée variety, the use of the IPM2.0 method resulted in a 15% reduction in fungicide sprays. In both resistant varieties, the reduction of fungicide application ranged from 80 to 90%.

Sources: Crop Biotech Update, Wageningen University & Research News

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