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Agriculture

EU court bans BASF's 'Amflora' GM potato, annuls Commission approval

The EU General Court has banned a genetically modified potato developed by German chemicals firm BASF. The decision by the EU's second-highest court annulled an EU Commission decision authorizing the spud, named Amflora.

The General Court had annulled an EU Commission decision authorizing BASF's genetically modified (GM) potato ‘Amflora' because the European Union's executive had departed from the rules governing the authorization procedures, the European Union's second-highest court announced on Friday.

The ruling came as EU members Hungary, France, Austria, Poland and Luxembourg challenged an EU Commission decision in 2010 that had cleared BASF's Amflora potato for industrial starch production and animal feed use.

The Commission gave its approval after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said in a consolidated opinion in 2009 that it believed Amflora posed no threat to human health or the environment. However, the Commission failed to submit the EFSA report, which included dissenting opinions, to two advisory committees made up of representatives of EU member states.

The EU General Court noted that if the Commission had submitted the report in compliance with the rules, the result of the procedure or the content of the decision could have been substantially different.

“Because the Commission significantly failed to fulfill its procedural obligations, the General Court has annulled the contested decision,” the court said in its ruling.

BASF dropped GM spud plans in EU

In 2011, BASF already stopped selling its Amflora potatoes in the EU because the genetically modified (GM) crop was struggling to gain a market share amid widespread popular and political resistance.

In 2012, the German chemical giant announced that it was moving its biotech headquarters to North Carolina and halting the commercialization of GM products for the European market.

Apart from the BASF potato, there is only one other GM crop approved for commercial growing in the EU, which is a strain of maize called MON810 developed by US-based seed giant Monsanto.

uhe/tj (AFP, dpa)