A chemical company has asked for permission to grow the first trial crop of genetically modified (GM) potatoes in the UK.
Potato blight is still a major problem in many countries
BASF says it hopes GM potatoes could be sold in the UK within 10 years.
It says they would be resistant to late blight disease, meaning no need for spraying fields with fungicides, and could save millions in damaged crops.
But environmentalists say consumers do not want GM potatoes even if it means cutting back on chemicals.
Two genes from wild potatoes have been discovered which make them resistant to late blight - the disease which caused the Irish potato famine.
The only way to get those genes into new varieties is by genetic modification.
BASF says blight resistance means farmers could avoid losses of up to £50m a year through damaged crops.
It says the trials would take place in Cambridgeshire and Derbyshire.
BASF spokesman Barry Sticking said the application was about providing choice for farmers.
"Farmers ought to have the choice between growing organic crops the traditional way - using fungicides and herbicides - or crops which are grown from GM varieties," he told BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme.
But Claire Oxborough, from Friends of the Earth, said there was no market for GM goods.
She said: "Consumers have already made that choice and that's why all the supermarkets and food companies have stopped using GM ingredients in their foods.
"They've recognised that people don't want to eat it."
If trials went ahead, crops in future years could be contaminated, she added.