BRITISH SCIENTISTS have published research revealing a new strain of genetically modified (GM) potatoes has been developed that can resist blight.
EU approval is now needed before commercial cultivation of the GM potato can take place.
Late blight, often known as potato blight, is a serious problem for farmers across the globe. The disease is caused by a highly destructive fungus, which infects plants making them inedible to humans. Blight was a major cause of the Irish potato famine in the nineteenth century.
The new strain of potato has been developed by adding a gene to Desiree potatoes, which helps them protect themselves against the disease. Three years of trials has proven the GM crop can withstand the introduction of blight.
The scientists involved say that the use of techniques to add extra genes was crucial in developing a plant resistant to the blight.
"Breeding from wild relatives is laborious and slow, and by the time a gene is successfully introduced into a cultivated variety the late blight pathogen may already have evolved the ability to overcome it," said Prof Jonathan Jones, of the Sainsbury Laboratory, the lead author of the research paper.