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Agri Chief backs GM Research.

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Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc, the Agricultural Research and Training Authority, has said that European opposition to genetically modified food research is ''profoundly regrettable''.

In an interview in the latest edition of the Irish Farmers Monthly, the Teagasc Head outlined his views on the potential of GM technology. He said: ''It is profoundly regrettable that, in Europe at least, we do not embrace a technology that has the potential to eliminate many of the risks associated with food production, particularly in the context of changing climatic conditions. I have a huge interest in the development of agriculture in the emerging economies and I have no doubt that GM has a role to play in addressing hunger and malnourishment across the globe''.

Professor Boyle went on to defend the research that Teagasc is undertaking into the development of blight-resistant potatoes: ''As a research organisation we are not advocates for any production system but we are advocates of knowledge and information, whether that's for consumers or producers, to enable them to make informed decisions. Our researchers into potato blight resistance have engaged with every interested party to dispel fear and raise knowledge of what is involved. It would be a derogation of our duty if we did not engage in this research work''.

The GM Potato 'Amiga' Study into blight resistance is now entering it's second year at Teagasc's Oakpark Research Centre in Carlow. Based on the first year's data, the GM potato has demonstrated strong resistance to late blight infection. Ongoing research is required to determine the durability of the resistance in the GM potato plants being grown at Oakpark.