Tuesday, March 2, 2010

EU Approves GMO "Amflora" Potato

Life is in Their Hands – Death is on Their Minds! It Explodes like 12 Angry GMO Potatoes!

BRUSSELS – A few bad sprouts within the European Commission  today approved the cultivation of genetically-modified potatoes, but environmentalists and European ministers slam the suspicious spud dubbed “Amflora” as a threat to human health - though the potatoes will not be for human consumption. So, if humans won't be consuming them, then let's mosey down the food-chain:

“Modified vegetables and cereals have long been a matter of fierce debate in Europe and the commission stressed that the Amflora would only be for "industrial use" including animal feed.”

Industrial use! OK, and then cows, chickens, goats and every other assortment of domestic animals and barnyard pets - some which inevitably end up on the human dinner table. While some dare call them “frankenfoods” (h/t saynotogmos.org), others within the EU Commission insist their decision is "based on a considerable volume of sound science” but critics cite the below health and environmental hazards:

“Amflora is also modified to produce pure amylopectin starch in technical applications. Conventional potatoes produce a mixture of amylopectin and amylose starch. But the potato also contains a marker gene resistant to antibiotics, fuelling environmentalists' fears over the risks of contamination for non GMO varieties. Friends of the Earth said the Amflora potato "carries a controversial antibiotic resistant gene which it cannot be guaranteed will not enter the food chain."

If the decision is based on “sound science”, some groups question the GMO industry's method. Foes of the Amflora potato include Friends of the Earth, an organization that claims the potato "carries a controversial antibiotic resistant gene which it cannot be guaranteed will not enter the food chain." Despite overwhelming global resistance to GMO foods, why the big EU potato push? Ka-ching! Something to do with “the world's biggest chemical company”, BASF, harvesting a new crop of moolah:

"The new commissioner whose job is to protect consumers has in one of his first decisions ignored public opinion and safety concerns to please the worlds biggest chemical company," said Heike Moldenhauer, the group's GMO spokesperson.”

The article also notes that BASF was "delighted" by the decision "after waiting for more than 13 years" for EU approval. How long will the sound science of producing money continue to trump human health and environmental safety standards?

Party on, potato heads plebes!



Anonymous said...

This "spud" went through 13 (!!!) years of regulations, including evaluation, re-evaluation and re-re-re-evaluation of it's safety. Friends of the earth and other environmentalist groups know they're wrong, still they win over the general public to beleive there is an actual risk. We add antibiotics to animal feed, quite regularly, cause it makes animals grow faster, even if it causes massive resistance to those antibiotics. How come that is ok, when the presence of an antibiotic resistance gene in this potato is unacceptable because, through a process observed only under laboratory circumstances, there is a billion to one chance that it wil cause increased resistance in an already vastly antbiotic resistant microbial population?

2Truthy said...

"We add antibiotics to animal feed, quite regularly, cause it makes animals grow faster, even if it causes massive resistance to those antibiotics."

If there are no risks, then I would have to agree with you. A few thoughts:

First, *two wrongs don't make a right*. The highly criticized practice of pumping animals with hormones is also globally condemned for health and environmental safety concerns, prompting many dairy farms and meat producers to label their products "free" of antibiotics and other hormones.

Second, if there is truly a 'billion to one chance that it will cause increased resistance in an already vastly antibiotic resistant microbial population', then cause for concern would likely wane. But when it comes to GMO foods, the main concern appears to be the risk of genes spreading into the food supply and environment and their unknown health risks.

Third, at a time when small farmers in countries around the world - from the U.S. to the EU to poor, third world countries -- are ALL looking to grow sustainable, organic, healthy foods and become less import dependent, why did the WTO hand down a decision in 2006 that made banning genetically modified crops tantamount to an illegal trade barrier?

This 2007 NY Times article below describes Amflora's use as being only industrial:


"In one sense, the supreme irony is that Amflora is not a food at all. Although it looks, feels and smells like any other spud, each potato is actually a genetically engineered factory for amylopectin, a starch used to make glossy paper coatings, clothing finishes and adhesive cement."

But the 2010 article referenced in my post explains that it will be now be used for both industrial use and animal feeds. Hence, the NY Times 2007 article added back then that modifying Amflora for food and animal feeds "would be a much tougher sell":

"But if the approval process for industrial Amflora has proved a challenge - BASF first filed an application to grow the potatoes in 1994 - the road will certainly be far more arduous for other planned genetically modified crops, since they do involve plants intended for food or animal feed. "That will be a much tougher sell," said a spokesman.

Again, if GMO foods present no health and environmental safety risks, 'no problem' would go the thinking. But when local, organic foods are in demand by populations of developed and developing countries with struggling, hard working farmers in countries like India, for example, be forced by Trade agreements to consume Big AG GMO processed foods when their livelihoods are dependent upon family farming? Aside from health and environmental concerns, what are the economic risks of GMO foods to struggling people around the world?

Anonymous said...

The spud did not go through 13 years of regulations/ re evaluation etc. - there was a stalemate at brussels due to member states having concerns about safety. Do not assume the stalemate was unblocked by BASF obligingly presenting new safety data - no, instead they used their usual bullying tactics to threaten legal action at the commission. A quick meeting between a BASF director and the EU commissioner and hey presto- problem solved. The safety experiments are a farce - they use only half the necessary number of animals and even then, the changes in whict blood cell count and spleen weight cannot be disguised. This product muct not be used in the food chain.

2Truthy said...

Anon 5:36 PM,

Thank you for your clarification about BASF's role in undermining the truth about the health hazards of said spud. Please let our readers know more as you follow this disturbing push from Big AG to force the amflora on the helpless public. -t.t.