Research scientists with Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada (AAFC) have developed two varieties of potato plants with built-in beetle resistance that could help lower pesticide use and reduce the number of potato plants destroyed by pests each year. Dr. Helen Tai, who works out of the Fredericton Research and Development Centre, said the development of the new varieties is timely with growing concern surrounding the use of pesticides on crops, and said research has been done to develop the plants for approximately 30 years. These new resistant potatoes are already in the breeding program and available to industry to trial.
“These are plants that we’ve been working on for a long time,” Tai said. Tai said it involves using “wild material” from South America and said the new plants are naturally bred and not genetically modified. She said they don’t do genetic modification in their breeding program. Tai said she’s heard a lot from [the] industry that they are concerned about reductions in pesticide usage that’s going to be required, and said she and her fellow research scientists are hoping to be able to be part of that solution. More