IOA feels that the decision by the European Commission to give the green light to the commercial cultivation of the contentious genetically modified potato “Amflora” is moving the EU in the wrong direction.
Produced by German chemical giant BASF, the Amflora potato is designed to be rich in starch as an alternative thickening agent for paper, adhesives and textiles. However as far back as 2006 the ESFA themselves stated that “there is no guarantee that these potatoes will not enter the food chain”. The fact that “Amflora” carries an anti-biotic resistant gene will have major consequences if this potato does enter the food chain.
The data emerging from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) where GM crops have been cultivated commercially since 1996, shows that pesticide application to GM crops has increased by 27% in the last ten years making GM crops extremely expensive to produce both from the farmers perspective and also from an environmental perspective. The end result is crops which are very expensive to produce and crops which consumers don’t want to eat.
In 2006 BASF abandoned its plans to cultivate its genetically modified potato in a test site in Meath. Public opposition was strong with regard to the trial and this coupled with a demand that BASF pay the cost of independent monitoring of health and environment impacts ensured that BASF pulled out. The question of liability with regard to cross-contamination from GM cultivation is still one which has not been accepted by the bio-tech companies.
Dr. Sinead Neiland Chairperson of IOFGA, said that the decision by John Dalli Health Comissioner had effectively ignored public opinion and safety concerns to please BASF.
“This decision puts profit before people or the environment and will do little to increase public confidence in how EU representatives approach GM cultivation” she said.
“The existence of non-GM alternatives means that there is no reason for farmers to have to cultivate Amflora for the European starch industry and no need to introduce the risk of spreading antibiotic resistance”, she said.
Organic farmers are growing a large variety of potatoes many of which are naturally blight resistant and the introduction of the cultivation of this GM variety threatens this diverse production across the EU.
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