Staying green a challenge in blight-prone Ireland

Spray as many as 12 times a year for blight, or plant genetically modified potatoes that are resistant? It’s a choice that agriculturalists in the Emerald Isle may be forced to make as Ireland tries to stay green, one way or another, in the face of a virulent strain of potato blight approaching from Europe.

The blight spread across Europe in about 18 months and then to the United Kingdom. Scientists say it is highly aggressive and hit western Irish counties at the end of 2008. To make things worse, the European Union, which often finds genetically modified crops unacceptable, is also bringing in restrictions on sprays and chemicals which would make life easier for growers of conventional potato crops.

Better Farming - March 2009