An Irish food authority has been granted permission to carry out field trials on a genetically modified potato that could improve resistance to blight.

On Thursday, Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency  announced it had given approval to Teagasc, Ireland's agriculture and food development authority, for the project which will be carried out at Oak Park, Co. Carlow over the coming four years.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Teagasc’s head of crops John Spink said that it is currently assessing the eight conditions of the licence stipulated by the EPA.

"The control of blight, as any farmer will well know, is becoming increasingly challenging in Ireland; particularly in a wet year,” said Mr Spink.

“If we can get to the position where we're growing potatoes with much better resistance to blight, it will make the growing of potatoes more sustainable."

The Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA) have opposed the move.

"The European consumer is strongly against GM crops. This is based on independent Euro barometer research," the IOFGA's Gillian Westbrook said.

"We are opposed to this. Fundamentally, we feel this goes against Ireland's green credentials which we are actively trying to promote in Europe," she added.

Sir Walter Raleigh has been credited with bringing the first potatoes to Ireland in the 16th century. 

Irish potatoes to be genetically modified for first time everPhotobucket