Wojciech K. Kaniewski
Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Peter E. Thomas
United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Prosser, WA

The need for genetic improvements of American potato was recognized as a primary target for plant genetic engineering. As immediate needs, virus and insect resistance were recognized as important and attainable goals. Russet Burbank was selected as the recipient variety, because it is highly vulnerable to virus and insect production losses, and it is the predominant American variety. The development of resistance to the Colorado potato beetle and to potato leafroll virus were selected as priority goals, because these are the most economically important pests of potato in the United States and around the world. This article describes potato research and the struggles to develop commercial products, as well as the safety, initial acceptance, and final commercial failure of developed products. Opportunities for developing countries and subsistence farmers are emphasized.

Key words: Colorado potato beetle, potato, potato leafroll virus, potato virus Y, Russet Burbank, transgenic resistance.