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Biosafety and Health

The NewLeaf story Monsanto NewLeaf potato which incorporate a Bt gene conferring resistance to the Colorado Potato Beetle was first approved by the US regulatory agencies in early 1995. The GE Russet Burbank potato first was first transformed and appeared in Canada food chain in 1996, Bt varieties of Atlantic and Superior soon followed. In both cases, the potatoes were labeled as "NatureMark" and were accompanied by informational brochures detailing the new technology.In late 1998, Monsanto acqired final approval for a second type of GE potatoes: a Russet Burbank marketed as "New Leaf Plus," which combines the Bt trait with resistance to the Potato Leaf Roll Virus (PLRV). Shortly after that, in 1999, Monsanto added a third GE potato, "New Leaf Y," combining Bt with resistance to the Potato Virus Y (PVY). This GE trait was available in both Russet Burbank and Shepody varieties.

Those varieties were relatively popular with growers. The initial planting of NewLeaf Russel Burbank was only 1500 acres but quickly grew to 50,000 due to the difficulty to control the Colorado potato beetle, which was developing resistance to pesticides, and few alternatives were available. Then, in 1995, there were a high green peach aphid preasure which is the vector of the potato leafroll virus thus growers planting NewLeaf potatoes were able to reduce insecticides costs significantly.However, GE potatoes never amounted to more than 2-3% of the total potato market, and plantings of the GE varieties declined slightly after 1999. First of all, it was really expensive to bring the NewLeaf potatoes to the market inducing high fees for seed purchasing. Potato is a slow propagation crop thus there were low GE potato acres of the total potato market and close of the business had very little impact. Then, for resistance management strategy the variety switch during planting operation was a complication that many potato growers were not used to and the introduction on the market at the same period of a new insecticide, which offered an efficient alternative to struggle against Colorado Beetle have help the potato business failure. In 2002 less than 1 million hectares of GM potato was grown worldwide, all grown in either the USA or Canada. Due largely to poor sales, all GE potato varieties were discontinued by the developer in March of 2001 and since have not been sold to farmers for planting.

References:

Duncan, D., Hammond, D., Zalewski, J., Cudnohufsky, J., Kaniewski, W., Thornton M., Bookout, J., Lavrik, P., Rogan, G., Feldman-Riebe, J., (2002) Field performance of transgenic potato, with resistance to Colorado potato beetle ans viruses, HortScience, 37(2), 275-276

Kaniewski, W., Lawson, C., Sammons, B., Haley, L., Hart, J., Delannay, X., Tumer, N. 9 (1990) Field resistance of transgenic Russet Burbank Potatot to effects of infection by potato virus X and potato virus Y. Biotechnology, 8(8), 750-754 Kaniewski, W.K. & Thomas, P.E. (2004). The potato story.AgBioForum,7(1&2), 41-46. ----