Risky potato plan mashed by activists

Feature story - 19 May, 2011
It’s potato planting time again in the north of Sweden where activists are occupying BASF’s potato warehouse and are blocking the exit in order to hinder the German chemical company from planting the risky GMO potato “Amflora.”

BASF clearly haven’t learned from last year’s contamination debacle, when, in the first planting season, it was discovered that the company had accidently contaminated the Amflora field with its own – non-approved – gm-potato “Amadea”. The contamination scandal is the proof that once GE crops are released into the environment they cannot be controlled, even by the company that plants them.

Amflora was approved in the European Union to be used in food with a levels up to 0,9% and for feed use and seed cultivation. This approval of low levels in food allows for contamination of conventional potato crops by Amflora crops.

This GMO potato was approved without sufficient independent studies- no proper environmental risk assessment was conducted, toxicity for humans and animals was not assessed, and the implemented antibiotic resistance was simply ignored.

Greenpeace is demanding that BASF stop any further cultivation activities of Amflora, and for the European Commission to withdraw its approval of the GMO potato.

Greenpeace Austria, together with Justice and Environment and other NGOs, has already taken legal action against the approval of Amflora at the European Court of Justice. And not only NGOs are taking legal action, even member states, under the leadership of Hungary, are suing the European Commission for the approval of this risky potato.

UPDATE: The activists are braving cold temperatures and rain and still blocking the warehouse, they say they are prepared to stay for weeks if needed. Meanwhile, local residents have visited the site of the protest to express their support for the activists. The Swedish government is hard to decifer – on the one hand it is acknowledging that the European risk assessment of GMOs is too weak and needs improvement but on the other hand they are not taking any action to prevent the weakly assessed Amflora from being cultivated.

Thank you! This work wouldn’t be possible without the million people that signed the petition calling for a moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops. Read more about the delivery of the very first EU citizens initiative!