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Biotech potato controversy in Europe

Financial Times journalist Andrew Bounds reports from Bonn on March 13:

‘The battle over biotech crops erupted again yesterday after members of the European parliament blocked a resolution calling for greater use of the technology. MEPs voted to delay the draft motion to allow more time for the agriculture committee to scrutinise it.’

Menahwile, The Irish Independent published on March 12 that the multinational corporation BASF has abandoned plans to grow GM potatoes in Ireland. It is now opting to grow them in Britain where there are fewer restrictions. A BASF spokesperson confirmed that the company would not be going ahead with field trials in Co Meath which received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year. BASF delayed starting the trial last year citing the onerous monitoring requirements imposed by the EPA.

Friends of the Earth and GM Freeze are calling on the UK Government to suspend plans for these experimental trials of GM potatoes in the UK. The call comes after a Dutch court ordered permits for trials in the Netherlands to be destroyed because the risks to the environment had not been properly assessed. The UK trials of BASF’s blight resistant potatoes are due to take place from this spring at two locations for a period of five years. One site is a research centre in Cambridge, the other is proposed for Hedon/Preston, East Riding of Yorkshire.

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