Pressreleases

Talking Biotech: Where did GMOs come from? Former Monsanto scientist Robb Fraley recounts the advent of biotech crops

On the five-year anniversary of the Talking Biotech podcast published on the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) website, host and plant geneticist Kevin Folta sits down with former Monsanto chief technology officer Robb Fraley. He recalls the race to transform plants and his work as a leader at Monsanto. While the company did important work to advance crop biotechnology, Fraley says, Monsanto made little effort to explain genetic engineering to food companies, the media and consumers and was thus unprepared for the backlash against GMOs in the 1990s.

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IFA: Retail potato demand in Ireland remains buoyant; rain across Europe welcomed

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its latest potato report that retail demand in Ireland remains buoyant, and as restrictions ease further on June 29th and restaurants can re-open, growers are reminded to supply the peeling market where possible. Once again rainfall across Europe in the past week was welcomed. Not everyone has had rain and some areas including Northern Holland and parts of Eastern England remain very dry.

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Canadian crop report: Dry growing conditions coast to coast

United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) has released its latest crop update. Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager, reports that the Canadian potato crop is in the “growing stage”. There is a recurring theme from coast to coast: It is dry – but the crop is not suffering yet because it is in the early stages of development, but does need rain soon. UPGC provides a snapshot of the crop status and market across Canada

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Russia’s Irrico Group to supply potatoes for Lay’s chips

Potato System reports that the Irrico Group of Companies in Russia signed a contract with Frito Lay Manufacturing LLC to supply Stavropol-grown potatoes for the production of the Lay’s brand chips. The Irrico group is involved in intensive crop and vegetable farming on 29,000 hectares of crop land in the Stavropol Territory in the south of Russia. This year, Irrico plans to harvest more than 50,000 tons of potatoes.

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5th generation Oregon farmers launch ‘SpudLove’ chips

While the headlines are full of companies calling it quits over these historic setbacks, one Oregon farm is going big with a new product launch called SpudLove potato chips, according to the Oregon Family Farm Association. They report that SpudLove Snacks is making its newest potato chips with spuds grown at Threemile Canyon Farms in Boardman, harvested by fifth-generation potato farmers. In touting its five flavors of 100 percent organic chips.

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Desiccation research: Reaching skinset depends on a range of factors

You cannot use what’s happening above ground as a guide to what’s happening below, according to new research into alternative desiccants. A key finding from research work in the UK is that the rate of foliage desiccation does not correlate well with that of skinset, the key to harvesting without damage. The discovery was among the key findings of a project examining the best alternative desiccants to diquat carried out by NIAB CUF on behalf of AHDB in the UK. The research focused on the ‘hard to stop’ situations such as indeterminate varieties and seed crops.

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Biotron Lab celebrates storied history as it ends 50-year run as a research center

Since the first research project was initiated there in May 1967, the Biotron Laboratory on the west end of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus has been one of a few research centers in the world capable of simulating a range of environmental variables with precision and control for studying plants, animals, materials and materials. The Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Tissue Culture Laboratory has conducted its research at Biotron.

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Woman killed in industrial accident at Lamb Weston plant in Idaho

A Lamb Weston employee died in an industrial accident at the company’s Twin Falls facility Wednesday morning, according to a news release by Associated Press. Sadia Kawa, 48, of Twin Falls, died in the accident, Twin Falls County Coroner Gene Turley said. Lamb Weston makes frozen potato products in Twin Falls that are sold to restaurants and retailers throughout the United States.

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Late blight spore traps in action in Canada; more Colorado potato beetles seen by scouts

Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist working in Ontario, Canada, yesterday took a picture of one of several spore trap devices in operation on potato farms in that region. Earlier this week Dr Banks reported in her regular email newsletter that most of the fields in central Ontario that were planted in early May are filling the rows, and she said tuber size is good so far. Dr Banks mentioned that more Colorado potato beetles (CPBs) than usual are observed by potato scouts in Ontario. She asks: “if insecticide resistance is ruled out, what could be the reason for seeing more CPBs this season?”

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Low-tech tool helps fight potato late blight

Late blight is the most destructive potato disease in the world. It affects all potato producers (small-scale, commercial, seed producers, even urban producers) and the annual losses in developing countries are estimated at EUR 10?billion. Toward this end, the International Potato Center (CIP), in partnership with research and development institutions in Ecuador and Peru, has developed a low-tech tool to help farmers optimize fungicide use.

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Store cleaning: Reducing CIPC residue to comply with new tMRLs

The 2020 storage season is the first where store managers in Europe cannot apply Chlorpropham (CIPC) in store. However, they have an important job to do in reducing CIPC levels left over from previous applications, in order to meet any forthcoming temporary maximum residue level (tMRL) for future crops. AHDB Potatoes expect any tMRL that is announced to be set at a level that is achievable for the industry – but only if a rigorous programme of cleaning is followed.

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Interview: How PepsiCo is supporting smallholder potato farmers

In this interview, Pepsico Vice President of Sustainability, Christine Daugherty, speaks with demonstration farmer Ketsarin Boonkerd on how PepsiCo is supporting smallholder farmers and helping them flourish. Ms. Boonkerd is a potato farmer in Thailand. By adopting sustainable farming practices such as drip irrigation, with PepsiCo’s support, she grew her yield by 45% and reduced her water use by 28% in just one year. She also increased her income by $1,500 per acre. Today, Ms. Boonkerd helps farmers in her community and beyond to see the value in these more-sustainable farming practices.

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Tuberzone 2020: A precision approach to predicting potato tuber growth

The Tuberzone project addresses the benefits of using precision technology to optimise the value of seed potato crops in the UK. Tuberzone partners support the use of Tuberzone software, developed by SoilEssentials, to help farmers make decisions on when to stop tuber growth to maximise yield, quality and value of Gemson seed potatoes.

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‘From ridge to bed’ – The next step in HZPC’s potato innovation

Increasing food security in areas that are hard to access. This is one of the ideas behind an important potato innovation by HZPC: hybrid potato breeding. This innovation has been under development for many years. And now it’s time for the next step. Seed potatoes from hybrid potatoes grow successfully on the well-known ‘ridges’ and now also in so-called ‘beds’. Flower bulbs are grown in this type of bed too.

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Trimble appoints Sencrop as a Select Partner for Agriculture

Sencrop has announced that it has been chosen as a Trimble Select Partner for agriculture. Under the Trimble Select Partner Program, Sencrop’s connected ag-weather stations will be available to customers through the Trimble and Vantage™ distribution networks in the European Union (EU) and in the United Kingdom (UK) as part of Trimble’s marketplace dedicated to precision agriculture. Sencrop is the only fully connected ag-weather ecosystem in Europe.

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Japanese potato chip giant Calbee extends telework indefinitely

Calbee Inc., a leading Japanese producer of potato chips and other snack foods, will extend teleworking indefinitely for the 20 percent of its workforce in the country currently doing so. The company announced the decision June 25 after noticing its operational efficiency had significantly improved since the 800 or so Calbee employees at its head office and around the country began teleworking in late March due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

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A beleaguered industry: British potato growers expected to deliver higher quality products with less irrigation water

The British potato industry is under pressure due to increased expectations of potato quality from the supermarkets. Previous studies have shown that irrigation plays a crucial role in reducing common scab, but water resources are less available than before, says AHDB Potatoes in a recent news release. AHDB points out that water resources have diminished over recent years, becoming more expensive and less available due to strict licencing.

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Focus on innovative microbial approaches: Yara partners with Boost Biomes in joint development agreement

Yara and US-based startup Boost Biomes announced a joint development agreement between the two companies. Yara is investing USD 3 million in Boost, and Erkki Aaltonen, Director of Venture Investments at Yara, will join its board of directors. “This partnership underlines Yara’s commitment to further developing our biostimulant product range under the BIOTRYG platform, as part of our strategy to promote sustainable farming practices,” said Joacim Christiansen, SVP, Yara Farming Solutions.

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Herbicides – a season of replacements for British potato growers

Over the last three years, potato growers lost the approval for the most commonly used herbicides: linuron (in 2017) and diquat (in 2019), AHDB Potatoes says in a news release. It says weed control management has become a challenge, which experts are now trying to resolve by researching alternative options at the Strategic Farms trials. During the trials at the AHDB SPot Farms, two herbicide options have come forward: Emerger (aclonifen), and Shark (carfentrazone-ethyl).

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Breeders Trust invests in potato variety recognition using Geo4A satellite technology

The Brussels-based Breeders Trust today signed a major contract with Geo4A, a subsidiary of the Austrian company GeoVille. GeoVille specialises in the data processing of satellite images and is a leader in the field within Western Europe. The idea behind Breeders Trust is that together breeders can act more forcefully against unfair production and commercial practices adopted by the often globally operating rogue companies that discredit the entire sector.

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Podcast: You are invited to relax with PlanetPotato

The latest PlanetPotato podcast urges you to relax with a potato. It whisks you off to the Kartoffel Hotel in Germany where – as well as enjoying dozens of delicious potato dishes – you can be pampered in its potato spa! Chill out and detox with a potato mash wrap or luxuriate in a potato bath and let the cares of the world float away… The podcast also speaks to Elin Tornblad of Swedish start-up Potato Plastics, which is using potatoes to replace a whole range of plastic products from cutlery to cling film.

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Farmers Day: Peru among world’s top potato producers

Within the framework of the Farmers Day —which takes place today— Peru managed to consolidate its position among the top 15 producers of this Andean tuber in the world, given the active participation of over 700,000 small producers, who cultivate potatoes in 19 regions across the country. World-renowned as the center of origin of potato, Peru has thousands of native potato varieties.

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Bayer to pay up to $10.9bn to settle US Roundup lawsuits

Bayer said today that it will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle litigation over the weedkiller Roundup, which has faced thousands of lawsuits over claims it causes cancer. Bayer said it was also paying up $1.22 billion to settle two additional areas of intense litigation, one involving toxic chemical PCB in water, and one involving dicamba, another weedkiller. The company continues to maintain that Roundup is safe.

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Simplot requests extension of deregulation of GMO potato: APHIS invites public comment

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is inviting public comment on a request from J.R. Simplot Company to extend deregulation to a potato variety, designated as Snowden Z6. The request was made today. APHIS is interested in receiving comments regarding potential environmental and interrelated economic impacts as it relates to the National Environmental Policy Act

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Video: A working day of planting potatoes in the Netherlands

In this video by YouTube content creator, Martijn of the Trainspotter channel, followed planting activities on the arable farming operation L.B. van Nieuwenhuijzen. The operation is located on the island of Goeree Overflakkee in the Netherlands. Farm operators were planting potatoes with a brand new Fendt 940MT vario and 8-row Grimme GL860 planter. Preparing the soil was done using a Fendt 926 vario and a 4.5m wide tilling machine, and hilling was done with two Fendt 720’s with Grimme 4-row rotary hillers.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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