Field trials of genetically modified potatoes could be up and running early next year.

Biotechnology company BASF has put in an application for two trials to study the performance of a new blight resistant GM potato variety.

If approved by DEFRA, the GM potatoes will be planted next spring on two 1ha sites – one at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridgeshire and one on a farm in Derbyshire.

The trials will be conducted over four years.

“Late blight has a significant impact on UK food production,” said BASF’s Barry Sticklings. “If the genes help protect potato crops, it will be a scientific breakthrough”

For more details of the trials and industry reaction see Farmers Weekly out on Friday, 25 August.