London: British scientists have developed genetically modified potatoes, which are resistant to "late blight."
A three-year trial showed that the potatoes are able to thrive despite being exposed to late onset blight.
That disease has plagued farmers for generations and triggered the Irish potato famine in the 1840s.
Scientists at the John Innes Centre and the Sainsbury Laboratory began a trial with blight-resistant potatoes in 2010, and added a gene to Desiree potatoes from a wild South American relative, which helps the plant turn on its natural defences to fight off blight.
Lead author Professor Jonathan Jones from the Sainsbury Laboratory, said that breeding from wild relatives is laborious and slow and by the time a gene is successfully introduced into a cultivated variety, the late blight pathogen may already have evolved the ability to overcome it.
In 2012, the third year of the trial, all the non-GM potatoes in the trial were infected with late blight by August while the modified vegetables remained resistant.
The research has been published in the journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.