Genetically modified potato crop trial resumes

LONDON (Reuters) - A crop trial of genetically engineered potatoes has resumed in northern Britain, a year after the trial was abandoned when protesters ripped up plants.

“We granted a three-year consent,” a government official told Reuters on Monday. “The trial has been resumed. It’s perfectly allowed,” she added, denying a report in The Daily Telegraph that the resumption of the trial was “in secret.”

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) granted a three-year consent to Leeds University in May 2008 to test the field performance of the genetically modified potatoes against pests.

But the 400 plants in the field, near Tadcaster in North Yorkshire, were removed just weeks after planting in May 2008 as a result of damage caused by protesters, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The GM potatoes would not be used for food or animal feed, and the statutory consent specifies precautionary conditions to ensure that genetically modified material does not persist at the trial site after the trial, Defra said.

Reporting by David Brough; editing by Sue Thomas