Vicky Ford MEP

Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

05 JUL 2010

GM potatoes on the table for Vicky Ford MEP

Vicky Ford MEP dropped by The Sainsbury Laboratory on Norwich Research Park to see first-hand the ground breaking work they are doing to develop blight resistant potatoes, funded by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council. The research centre in Norwich has in the past benefitted from European funding for scientific research.

The new strains have been developed by introducing a gene for blight resistance from a wild South American potato into the commercial variety, Désirée, and the trial is designed to see how they respond to natural infection in the field.

Vicky Ford said:

"Most people will be aware of the catastrophic effect of potato blight in Ireland during the great potato famine but few may be aware that even today our farmers need to spray potato crops up to fifteen times a season to protect them from blight.

"If this trial is successful it will substantially reduce the need for chemicals, save energy and reduce prices.

"I was very impressed by the site security and the controlled manner in which this trial is being conducted - as potatoes are not grown from seed the trial has no risk of cross pollinating traditional varieties. If we are to protect the environment and meet food demand for the growing population, we need a sensitive, safe and intelligent approach to new developments."

Simon Foster, Laboratory Manager for The Sainsbury Laboratory said:

"It was a pleasure to meet with Vicky and to have the opportunity to explain how our approach to reducing losses due to potato blight will benefit consumers, farmers and the environment by reducing the chemical inputs associated with growing potatoes".

Catherine Reynolds, Head of Communications said:

"We were delighted to welcome Vicky to the campus. We were also able to give her a background briefing on nanotechnology as it relates to food. We hope this will be the first of many visits".

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My Political Priorities

Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.

I support Science and Research which is key to delivering better medical care, healthy food as well as the Innovation and Creative Industries which bring improved lifestyles for all our families.

Strong home Security is vital in today's uncertain world, which requires robust policing and defence and deep international relationships that we can depend on. I work with others to achieve this.

I care about the Countryside and the Environment and making sure that rural and urban communities flourish.