No Amflora in 2009

[img_assist|nid=203|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]According to a German newspaper report there will be no Amflora cultivation in 2009. In May 2008, the EU Commission had requested an additional opinion from the EFSA after memberstates did not find a qualified majority to approve or reject BASF's application to cultivate the GM ptotato in Europe. Concerns were raised repeatedly about the antibiotic resistance marker gene nptII in Amflora, that among others concerns antibiotica used as a last resort for multi-resistant tuberculosis.
But a closer look at the Draft Decision by the EU Commission also shows that the EU Commission came to a very different conclusion about risks and risk management of Amflora cultivation. While the EFSA stated that they agreed with BASF that no case-specific monitoring was needed, the EU Commission drafted a decision in which case-specific monitoring was requested to monitor effects on potato feeding animals on and around the fields - an issue the EFSA had not even considered in its review of the application. (More details in the German report EU-Risikomanagement.)
Already in 2008 2008, BASF had sued the EU Commission for unduly delaying a decision. A new EFSA opinion was expected on 15 December, but now will only be published in March 2009 - too late for planting in 2009, independent of what the outcome of this new opinion will be.
Meanwhile also other potato-starch companies are closing rank with BASF. In a joint statement with BASF the three companies Avebe (Netherlands), Emsland (Germany) and Lyckeby Industrial (Sweden) demanded that Amflora should be approved for cultivation, and that in fact "A positive scientific safety evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) should automatically lead to approval for growing genetically modified crops,” (G. Meursing, Managing Director Commerce of the starch producer Avebe). This demand is not totally selfless: Avebe has been working on GM potatoes for years now themselves.