Scientists are now conducting further research aimed at identifying multiple resistance genes in genetically modified potatoes that will thwart future blight attacks.
Non-modified plants grown in a series of series of field trials were all infected after being denied protection from chemicals. However, no-one can say at this stage how long the GM strain will hold out against blight, which is notorious for its ability to overcome resistance.
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.
With new insights into both the pathogen and its potato host, we can use GM technology to tip the evolutionary balance in favour of potatoes and against late blight.
– Lead scientist Professor Jonathan Jones, from The Sainsbury Laboratory
The Irish potato famine of 1845 was a disaster for the poorer people of Ireland who depended on potatoes for food and income.
A new strain of British genetically modified potato appears immune to the devastating fungus responsible for the great Irish famine of 1845, research has shown. Late blight, caused by the organism Phytophthora infestans, remains the potato farmer's greatest enemy to this day.
Each year UK farmers spend around £60 million keeping the infection at bay with pesticides. In a bad year, losses and control measures combined can account for half the total cost of growing potatoes.
In the latest of a series of field trials, conducted in 2012, the fungus was unable to break down the defences of any of the GM potatoes.
British scientists have applied to begin field trials of a genetically modified crop containing fish oil nutrients in its seeds in what could be a big boost to the fish farming industry.
An application to conduct the trials at Rothamsted Research agricultural institute has been submitted to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and is expected to begin from April if endorsed.
The scientists are bidding to produce the world's first sustainable plant source of fish oil omega-3 fatty acids by "cutting and pasting" genes taken from marine algae, which could help protect against heart disease.
While the fish farming industry, which consumes 80% of fish oil supplies, stands to benefit from the trials, in the long term the GM-oil could also be included in food products like margarine.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said he wanted the UK to have a "leading role in feeding the world" by utilising GM crops.
Mr Paterson said the Government will make the UK the "best place" for companies and research providers to carry out their work by breaking down any barriers they may face.
He acknowledged public and environmental fears but insisted that "extensive testing" was in place:
"As with all technologies, public and environmental safety is paramount.
"The truth is that products are subject to extensive testing and development in tightly controlled conditions - progressing from laboratory, to glasshouse, to field trials only when it's safe to do so."
Scientists and research companies have welcomed the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson's call for a focus on the benefits of Genetically Modified Crops, saying it "offers a way forward" on a global issue.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council chief executive Douglas Kell said the technology could be used to "produce enough food for a growing population with fewer inputs".
"A GM approach could offer a way forward and without it we would risk blocking a solution to major global issues. This signal of support helps to keep doors open that could help us in an ever-changing future. "
Professor Maurice Moloney from Rothamsted Research said the government's stance would put the UK back into a "leadership position" on the issue of GM crops:
"The Government's initiative puts the UK back into a leadership position in Europe on this issue and will promote a rational approach to the adoption of technologies that our farmers want and need in order to maintain their competitive position in world agriculture."
The move by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to reopen the debate surrounding genetically modified foods has been met with mixed response by environmental groups.
Despite decades of research, there are still no miracle crops to tackle the challenges agriculture faces, such as climate change, soil degradation, water shortages and growing demand.
Where GM crops are grown, they are exacerbating the very intensive farming practices that are part of the problem.
Ministers must urgently get behind a different approach to food and farming that delivers real sustainable solutions rather than peddling the snake oil that is GM.
– Friends of the Earth's head of policy, research and science Mike Childs
Owen Patterson's GM dream will make it harder to feed the world. The British Government constantly claim that GM crops are just one tool in the toolbox for the future of farming. In fact, GM is the cuckoo in the nest.
It drives out and destroys the systems that international scientists agree we need to feed the world. We need farming that helps poorer African and Asian farmers produce food, not farming that helps Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto produce profits.
– Peter Melchett, policy director of organic campaign group Soil Association
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson will reopen the controversy over genetically modified crops with a speech extolling the benefits of the technology.
Mr Paterson will say that government, scientists and industry "owe a duty to the British public to reassure them that GM is a safe, proven and beneficial innovation" for farmers and consumers.
He will claim that there are potentially significant economic and environmental benefits to growing GM produce, including increasing yields, protecting crops from disease and reducing the use of pesticides and chemicals.