Just two weeks ago, the EU environmental ministers postponed their decision on the cultivation of BASF's GM starch potato Amflora. Instead the decision has now been put on the agenda of the agricultural ministers this coming Monday. It appears that the EU Commission is determined to get this GM potato approved, and also to get the first cultivation approval since 1998 and the moratorium.
[img_assist|nid=108|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=65]The application for Amflora went unnoticed for some time, and as usual the EFSA gave a positive opinion even though Amflora contains the antibiotic resistance gene nptII against kanamycin, neomycin and a number of other antibiotic. In December 2006, the Standing Committee did not get a qualified majority in favour or against it, and the application was passed on to the environmental ministers.
However before it came to that, the possibility that the antibiotic resistance trait could be spread to soil bacteria raised concerns within the EU authorities, and DG Environment blocked the further authorisation until EMEA, the European Medicines Agency, would give an opinion on the use of this antibiotic resistance gene.
The WHO has listed kanamycin as an reserve antibiotic against multiple-resistant tuberculosis. The EMEA came to the that the antibiotics against which the nptII gene provides resistance are much more often used than the EFSA assumed.
But while EFSA acknowledges that horizontal gene transfer can occur, but it simply keeps on stating that it wouldn't happen often enough to be a problem, and that there already are soil bacteria resistant to these antibiotics. So Amflora was back on the agenda of the environmental ministers at the end of June, who in turn decided to postpone a decision until they would have more information.