BASF has said it will stop seeking approval of its genetically modified (GM) potato varieties in the European Union after a decade of research and investment, citing uncertainties in the regulatory environment.
BASF had three GM potato varieties pending approval in the EU, while its Amflora potato, modified to contain a higher proportion of amylopectin for industrial starch use, was approved for cultivation in the bloc in 2010.
The company said it would halt its pursuit of regulatory approvals for its Fortuna, Amadea, and Modena potato varieties in Europe “because continued investment cannot be justified due to uncertainty in the regulatory environment and threats of field destructions.”
BASF had been seeking approval for the cultivation in the EU of Modena, Amadea and Fortuna potatoes since April 2009, August 2010 and October 2011, respectively. The Modena and Amadea varieties, like Amflora, have been modified to boost amylopectin for industrial starch, while the Fortuna variety has been modified for resistance to phytophthora fungus, a major potato crop disease.
The decision comes on the heels of news that the European Commission has no immediate plans to authorise several crops that are currently awaiting approval for cultivation, although it has denied that it has frozen GM crop approvals. A spokesperson for health commissioner Tonio Borg told this publication last week that the commissioner would prioritise talks with key member states on permissible grounds for banning cultivation of GM crops in individual countries.
BASF’s Amflora potato variety is one of just two crops currently approved for cultivation in the EU, the other being Monsanto’s MON810 corn. 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.
BASF said in January last year that it would halt commercialisation efforts for GM products targeted solely at the European market due to lack of market acceptance, and concentrate instead on Asian and North and South American markets.