EU court annuls Commission GM potato approval

16-Dec-2013 - By Caroline Scott-Thomas+
Cultivation approval in 2010 was for non-food uses, but was significant as the first EU crop approval since 1998
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A European court has annulled approval of BASF’s genetically modified (GM) Amflora potato in the European Union, saying the Commission had not followed proper procedures.

The Amflora potato, modified to contain a higher proportion of amylopectin starch for use in the paper industry, was approved for cultivation in the bloc in 2010, but BASF said in January last year that it would stop selling the variety in Europe due to lack of market acceptance in the region.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a positive opinion on the safety of the potato in 2007, at which time the Commission proposed that it be approved for cultivation. Following a lack of consensus from EU and national authorities, the Commission used its power to approve cultivation in 2010.

However, the General Court of the European Union said on Friday that the Commission should have taken into account a subsequent EFSA opinion, issued in 2009. At that time, the Commission should have submitted a new proposal to the relevant authorities, the court said. Instead, it adopted the 2007 opinion.

“The General Court finds that…without allowing the competent committees to comment on the opinion or on the amended draft decisions, the Commission departed from the rules of the authorisation procedures,” the court concluded.

“Because the Commission significantly failed to fulfil its procedural obligations, the General Court has annulled the contested decisions,” it said in a statement.

The Amflora potato is one of only two GM crops in Europe currently approved for cultivation in the EU, the other being Monsanto’s MON810 corn. Another GM crop, DuPont Pioneer’s insect-resistant and herbicide-resistant maize variety 1507 looks set for approval by the end of the year, unless a weighted majority of member states votes against it.

Several other crops are banned for cultivation but can be imported into the EU, and unintended presence of GM material is tolerated at a level of up to 0.9% in other crops.

Related topics: GM food, Legislation, Fruit, vegetable, nut ingredients, Meat, fish and savoury ingredients