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EU: The first harvest of the Amflora potato

(2 Septembre 2010) Since March 2010 the first genetically modified (GM) potato, Amflora, is approved in the EU. This week its first harvest began in Germany. In spite of on-site protests German Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Rainer Brüderle, pulled up the first tubers from the 14 hectares big field in Northern Germany.

According to press releases by BASF Plant Science, the Minister pointed out to the farmers how important the contribution of biotechnology was for a sufficient provision with renewable resources.

In the two days following the event, 3000 tonnes of potatoes were harvested and shall subsequently be used for seed propagation. The Amflora field in Germany's region of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the only area in Germany where the potato was planted in 2010.

There had been many protests against the cultivation of Amflora. After the planting in April environmental associations and opposition parties demanded of Ilse Aigner, the German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, to suspend the EU approval of the crop and ban the cultivation in Germany. In July, one hectare of the field was destroyed by protesters against plant genetic engineering, another attempt was prevented. One week before the harvest started Till Backhaus, the local State Minister of Agriculture, again demanded a ban on cultivation.

Meanwhile, BASF Plant Science submitted a further application for approval of a GM crop to the EU, again for a starch potato, this time called Amadea. Like Amflora, Amadea produces only the amylopectin compound of starch and is meant to complement and later replace the cultivation of Amflora. The new thing about Amadea is the fact that additionally to its function as raw material it could also be used for food production. BASF reckons with a market launch of the product for the season 2013/14.


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