Britain's farm and environment ministry has given the go-ahead for research trials on disease resistant genetically modified potatoes. German chemicals group BASF will be allowed to hold trials on two sites in England, starting next year. The GMO potatoes, which have been developed to be resistant to potato blight, will not be used for food or animal feed.
There has been strong opposition among consumers in Britain to the use of GMOs in food crops.
Environment Minister Ian Pearson said in a statement that an independent assessment had concluded the trials did not give rise to any safety concerns. Several scientists welcomed the news.
European Union environment experts are due to debate an application by BASF to grow a potato that is genetically engineered to yield high amounts of starch. The application is for cultivation rather than just research trials. No GMO crops have been approved for cultivation in the EU since 1998. The potatoes would be used in industrial processing, not consumed by humans or animals, but the application is still fiercely opposed by green groups.