Taro researcher in American Samoa says no to GM

A researcher in American Samoa says he is not using genetic modification techniques in his search for new taro varieties.

He's responding to concerns in the local community, which does not want genetically modified organisms in the staple crop.

The American Samoa Community College horticulturist, Ian Gurr, says disease resistance and salt tolerance is better achieved through traditional breeding techniques.

He says in genetic modification only one specific gene is transferred, whereas conventional methods use several genes.

"If your tolerance or disease resistance is the result of several genes then it's a more lasting type of resistance or more lasting tolerance. You get a better result. You might not get 100 percent resistance but you a resistance which is stronger and will last longer".

Ian Gurr says disease resistance is important for the territory given the impact of the 1993 taro leaf blight, which completely decimated traditional varieties of taro.