In 2001, the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC) began conducting field trials with potatoes genetically modified to contain a Bt gene Cry1Ia1 (formerly BtCryV).
This novel gene is intended to protect the plants and potato tubers from infestations of the Potato tuber moth (Phthorimaea operculella). This research is not home grown or ‘truly South African’. The ARC is part of an international consortium, which includes the Michigan State University (MSU), the International Potato Centre in Peru and gene giant, Syngenta.
Syngenta has quietly been cornering the GM food potato market; lodging a stream of patents in the USA and other countries for a form of terminator (GURTS) technology that prevents potatoes from sprouting unless they are treated with chemicals supplied by the patent owner.
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