Ireland’s environmental protection agency has approved the first trial of a genetically modified potato crop.
Scientists say the plants have been designed to improve resistance to blight.
They argue that the type of genetic modification used is akin to conventional breeding.
But the decision has been severely criticised by campaigners who say that there will be “grave ramifications” for the country.
Late blight is sometimes said to be the most dangerous potato disease in the world. It can rapidly turn the vegetable into an inedible mush.
In recent years, more aggressive strains of blight have become prevalent, resulting in a chemical arms race as farmers and growers seek to kill the fungus with ever more powerful sprays.
The financial cost in a country like Ireland is estimated to be 15 million euros each year.
Since 2010, the European Union has been trialling genetically modified potato plants at a number of locations in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Now Ireland has given the go-ahead for a two-hectare trial site that will see how the GM potatoes cope with less anti-fungal spray than conventional varieties.