1.Europe not hungry for GM potatoes
1.Europe not hungry for GM potatoes
EU Agriculture Council rejects latest attempt to grow GMOs in Europe
Friends of the Earth Europe has welcomed EU member states' rejection of the latest application to grow GMOs in Europe, as the EU Agriculture Council today failed to approve the commercial growing of a genetically modified potato. There have now been no new GMOs grown in the EU for ten years.
Helen Holder, GMO Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Too few EU member states support growing genetically modified crops, and now yet another has been refused authorisation. National governments recognised the safety risks of growing this GM potato, as they have with previous applications. Now the decision is in the hands of the European Commission and we urge it to reject it too."
Today's vote was on an application to grow the genetically modified potato for use in industrial processes like making paper. The producer ”š German chemicals giant BASF ”š has also applied for approval to use the same potato in food and animal feed and acknowledges that contamination of the food chain is possible.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) gave the GM potato the green light, but has been criticized for overlooking several important health and environmental risks:
* Antibiotic resistance marker gene: the potato contains a gene which can convey resistance to antibiotics. Under EU law, genes of this kind should have been phased out by the end of 2004. EFSA acknowledges that the cultivation of this potato could lead to antibiotic resistance, yet argued that this did not pose a "relevant" risk to human health or to the environment.
* The risk assessment, required under EU law, fails to fulfil legal requirements. Basic information on the health and environmental safety of the GM potato is missing; in particular there is only an analysis of effects of surrounding wildlife on the potato, rather than looking at the impact of the GM potato on the environment.
* Effects on health have not been sufficiently investigated. A number of irregularities, including toxicological differences that could have serious implications for food safety, have simply not been probed either by BASF or by EFSA
* BASF admits that food contamination is likely: the potato has been genetically modified by the chemical giant BASF to increase its amylopectin content, which is used to produce starch. Although it is not intended to enter the food chain, BASF have issued a separate application for use in human food and animal feed, stating that "it cannot be excluded that amylopectin potato.. may be used as or may be present in food" .
* The risk of contaminating future crops is ignored. As they grow underground, it is virtually impossible to harvest all potatoes from a crop. Potatoes therefore grow back the following years and future crops could be contaminated with the genetically modified variant.
"No new GMOs have been grown in the European Union for 10 years now and research show that GMOs actually stimulate the economy less than green farming measures. It is time to accept that there is simply no market for genetically modified crops."
"The big GMO companies claim that using genetically modified potatoes in industrial processes is an environmentally-friendly option, but this is absurd considering the associated health and environmental risks," Ms Holder added.
For more information, please contact:
 Application for cultivation of Amylopectin Potato Event EH92-527-1 according to Directive 2001/18
 Application for Amylopectin Potato Event EH92-527-1 according to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, BASF Plant Sciences.
2.EU Split Means Go-Ahead for Cultivation of GM Potato
European Union farm ministers failed to break a deadlock over plans to allow the cultivation of a controversial genetically engineered potato, clearing the way for a European Commission move to authorize the product.
EU rules mandate the commission -- the EU's executive body -- to act on its authority on some key issues if the bloc's governments cannot resolve their differences.
The commission has said it favors the introduction of the genetically modified potato -- which includes genes that make it resistant to antibiotics -- since it will only be used for starch production and as animal feed.
"It will not enter the nutritional chain," said a commission spokeswoman.
If the commission goes ahead with the authorization, it will be the first time since 1998 that a genetically engineered plant is given permission for large-scale cultivation in the EU.
However, the commission decision could take some time.
But international environmental group Greenpeace said an EU go-ahead for cultivation of the potato would amount to allowing controversial genetically modified crops to enter the EU "through the back door."
Made in Germany
Italy and Austria are leading the group of EU states which oppose the cultivation of genetically modified crops in the bloc. Other states, including Britain, favor the move.
Greenpeace has called on governments to reject the potato, which has been developed by German chemical company BASF, saying it poses significant risks to health and the environment.
EU rules demand that genes which may have adverse effects on human health and the environment should be phased out.
However, the European Food Safety Authority has given a positive opinion on the BASF-developed potato, saying its antibiotic resistance genes do not pose a "relevant" risk to human health or the environment.
Greenpeace has warned that the genetically engineered potato did not undergo full risk assessment including its effect on biodiversity. The organization also said the potato could contaminate the food chain.
European Commission hungry for GM potatoes