Rejected: Amflora Potatoes

In a recent post, I discussed how Amflora potatoes are harmless, and could help industry produce starch using less energy and water. Unfortunately, approval for the potatoes was denied on March 12 by the European Commission, even though all applicable regulatory agencies have declared it to be safe. According to GMO Compass:

The Amflora potato was developed by BASF and an application for its approval for cultivation was submitted in 2003. Subsequently, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conducted a scientific safety assessment. Upon the conclusion of tests in 2005, the EFSA declared the Amflora line to be identical to conventional potatoes with regard to its effect on the environment.

On the basis of this declaration, the EU Commission recommended the approval of Amflora for cultivation within the Union. However, this recommendation was unable in 2007 to find support from a qualified majority of ministerial representatives of Member States in the European Council. As foreseen by EU law, ultimate responsibility for approval then was conferred to the Commission. This decision now has been delayed.

The most frustrating part of this non-decision is that no specific issues are listed. For example, if the Comission was concerned that the antibiotic resistance genes in the potato would spread, they should specifically ask BASF and other companies to only submit for approval plants that use other types of markers. The same goes for groups like FoE. It would be a lot easier for everyone if they made an effort to learn the science and made educated recommendations on what they do and do not want. Simply rejecting any form of genetic engineering only betrays their ignorance and their unwillingness to accept new technologies. No compromise will be possible without this effort to understand all sides of the issues.

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