Canadian Growers Lament Cause

Published online: Feb 07, 2000
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Potato growers in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are lamenting the fact they have to pay a $600 lab-testing fee to certify their potatoes are not genetically enhanced.

Since McCain Foods adopted a policy of refusing to purchase genetically enhanced potatoes, growers have had to test their crops. Finally, McCain and the New Brunswick provincial government agreed to help pay the costs.

Farmers are upset about having to pay to plant the bt potatoes and now having to pay to get rid of them-like some kind of disease. The inserted bt gene helps growers control one of the toughest pests alive-the Colorado potato beetle.

Growers point out that Cavendish Farms in PEI and Simplot in the western United States still take bt potatoes.

About 10 percent of NB's 230 growers planted NatureMark bt potatoes. But more than half of the province's production goes to McCain. Some growers have to pay to have their potatoes tested even though they haven't grown the genetically enhanced potatoes.

This spring there has been strong demand for seed without the bt gene.