Teagasc, the republic's research and development body for the agri-food sector, applied in February to conduct the four-year trials of potatoes modified to confer resistance to blight at a 2ha site in County Carlow. A subsequent EPA consultation brought 83 submissions from stakeholders and the public.
Teagasc head of crops John Spink said: "The control of blight is becoming increasingly challenging, particularly in a wet year. If we can get to a position where we're growing potatoes with much better resistance to blight, it will make the growing of potatoes more sustainable."
But Irish Organic Farmers & Growers Association general manager Gillian Westbrook said: "There is no demand for GM foods from consumers. By taking this irresponsible step, Teagasc has ended our status as a GM-free island. It will have serious repercussions for our export market - we cannot market our green image while growing GM crops."
Field trails of potatoes genetically modified for blight resistance are already underway in Norfolk and in the Netherlands.