DEFRA has approved a trial of a genetically modified potato variety at Leeds University.

The potatoes have been modified to resist infection by potato cyst nematodes using an inserted synthetic repellent and genes taken from rice plants.

DEFRA said that the trial could begin immediately and should end by 30 November this year. It also granted approval for the trial to begin again for six months beginning 1 May in 2009 and in 2010 if necessary.

The department also pointed out that precautionary conditions had been attached to the statutory consent for the trial. “These aim to ensure that GM potato material does not persist at the trial site. The harvested GM potatoes will not be used for food or animal feed,” a DEFRA official added.