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GM Seeds: New Round In “Black Potato” Wars …

  • September 4th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

farm-landscape.jpgA fresh round of trouble has started over planting of genetically modified seed on European farms, just a month after a compromise on handling that problem was reached in Brussels.


The Greenpeace organisation has seized on a move by Swedish authorities, ordering a clean-up of unauthorised plantings of potatoes, to gather support for an ongoing “no” campaign against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The executive European Commission battled for four years against member governments represented in the European Council, to get permission for farms to use scientifically approved GMOs.

Much of the contest centred on strains of black potatoes, used as a source of starch for industrial processes like making glue, not for eating.


In August it was agreed that the EC could grant approvals, but that individual members states could decide whether to use the species approved, or stick with keeping them out – a line very widely backed by citizens in most of the 27 member countries.

See EUAustralia Online; “GM foods, new import policy starts”, 2.8.10; “Commentary – the black potato war”, 4.3.10.

Now the environmental lobby Greenpeace says an unapproved  GM potato has been grown illegally in open fields in Sweden for months.


Statement from  Greenpeace:

Plant Science Sweden, the daughter company of German chemical giant BASF, appears to have mixed up seed and contaminated fields of the approved GM potato Amflora with an unapproved experimental variety, Amadea, which has not be fully tested for environmental and health impacts.

The Swedish authorities have demanded that the fields, planted on 11.6.10, be cleared of Amadea, but are allowing the Amflora plants to remain, despite the contamination. They have ordered BASF to account for similar GM potato fields in Germany and the Czech Republic.

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy advisor Stefanie Hundsdorfer said: “This is a deplorable lapse in bio-security. Who knows what the effects of growing a largely untested GM crop for months in the open environment will be? The Swedish authorities should order all plants in the contaminated fields destroyed and BASF should test all Amflora fields and destroy all plants where contamination has occurred.

“Biotech companies have repeatedly mixed up GM with normal seed. They can’t be trusted and contamination seems inevitable. European governments must put a stop to the European Commission authorising new GM crops. This is the only way to prevent contamination of our food and fields …

The Swedish contamination follows an almost identical case in which thousands of hectares of unauthorised GM maize had to be destroyed after being grown illegally across Germany this summer.

Over 750,000 Europeans have signed a petition calling for a moratorium on all new GM crops in the EU until a proper safety regime is put in place by the European Commission [2]. The petition is set to be one of the first to test how serious the Commission is about its flagship engagement policy, the Citizens’ Initiative.


Greenpeace Europe, Brussels; “Illegal GM potato discovered growing in Sweden; Swedish authorities demand investigations in Germany and the Czech Republic”, 4.9.10., (4.9.10).