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EU Approves GM Potato For Industrial Use

The European Union’s decision on Mar. 3 to approve commercial production of the potato Amflora containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) developed by German group BASF will open the way for sowings of the potato this year, BASF said.

“The way is now clear for commercial cultivation of Amflora this year,” said Peter Eckes, president of BASF Plant Science, in a statement.

The potato is for use in the starch industry, not for human consumption.

The EU approval is the bloc’s first GM cultivation approval in 12 years.

A BASF spokeswoman told Reuters it was planned to sow about 200 to 300 hectares of Amflora this year.

“We are working together with our partners in the starch industry, with starch producers, and plan the commercial cultivation with these partners in 2010 in various European countries, that is Germany, the Czech Republic and Sweden,” the spokeswoman said.

In April 2009, Germany’s government banned commercial production of GMO maize from U. S. biotech giant Monsanto on health concerns despite EU safety approval.

But the government allowed open air test cultivation of the Amflora potato, saying trials presented no threat to public health or the environment.

A spokesman for the German Agriculture Ministry said the government will accept the EU decision. The spokesman stressed that Amflora was not a human food.

The starch industry will handle further processing after harvesting, she said.

The Amflora potato produces a pure type of starch called amylopectin used in industrial processes including the paper, textile and adhesives sectors, BASF said.

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