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Mar 9, 2010

EU Commission Approves Amflora GM Potato

 After a 12 year moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops, in March 2010, the European Commission (EU) approved Amflora — a GE potato developed by German multinational BASF.

Amflora GM potatoes are engineered to produce a form of starch that is better for some industrial purposes. They are also engineered for resistance to the antibiotics kanamycin and neomycin. Environmental groups are concerned that resistant genes could transfer to bacteria, creating new bacteria with increased antibiotic resistance.

This is the first GM crop to be approved since 1998 when the EU approved Monsanto's MON 810 maize (corn). The approval led Nature to write an article looking at whether this movement constitutes a “new dawn” for GE crops in the EU. It concludes that “the EU-wide system for approving genetically modified organisms (GMOs) isn't working” as it requires a 'qualified majority' of the 27 member states that make up the European Council in favor … If the council fails to approve it, as was the case with Amflora, the decision rests with the European Commission.”

Certain EU member states have said that they will defy the commission’s approval and others have banned GM crops under national laws or 'safeguard clauses'. They include Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg.

In the future, the EU Commission may “continue to approve GM crops across the EU on the basis of scientific advice from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), its independent risk-assessment body in Parma, Italy — and then let member states decide whether to grow the crops or not. This sort of approach could take the heat out of the EU debate on GM crops, spur more approvals and allow countries that wish to grow GM crops to do so.”

Photo credit: BASF and Nature
For more see: Butler, Declan.  "A new dawn for transgenic crops in Europe? Approval of the Amflora potato could signal a fresh approach to genetically modified organisms." Naure, 9 March 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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