Health

Peruvians Ban GM Potatoes

| Tue Jul. 17, 2007 9:22 PM EDT

The government of Cusco in the Peruvian Andes is scheduled to ban all genetically modified varieties of potato. Nature reports the area was the birthplace of many kinds of potatoes, and is still home to thousands of varietals. The move was supported by Peruvian non-profit Association ANDES, along with the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development. The hope is to ensure that genes from GM potatoes don't infiltrate native potatoes, and to promote the area as a source of diverse, authentic, organic potato varieties. Association ANDES has been involved in repatriating varieties of potato that have gone locally extinct, but are held in repositories such as the International Potato Center in Lima. "When the potatoes came back, the culture came back," says Alejandro Argumedo. "Genetic diversity and cultural diversity are closely linked." JULIA WHITTY