EU clears GM crops for cultivation, sale

Brussels: Saying they posed no risks to health, the European Commission (EC) on Tuesday cleared the cultivation of a genetically modified potato and the use of three types of modified maize for food and feed production. The approvals are the first such to be granted in 12 years.

An activist poster
This was immediately attacked by critics as a move by the EC to cater to corporate interests at the expense of public health.

The Amflora potato - developed by German chemical giant, BASF - has been cleared for cultivation, though not on an industrial scale. It will be the first genetically modified food to be allowed to be grown in the European Union in 12 years.

The EU executive also approved the marketing of three genetically modified maize products from the American bio-tech firm, Monsanto Co, for food and feed purposes, but not their cultivation.

Amflora will be cultivated for industrial uses, such as paper-making and animal feed. The crop will likely be grown on 250 hectares in Europe, 150 hectares of which is in the Czech Republic, BASF said.

The firm also said it expected peak license fees of about 20-30 million euros ($27-40.6 million) per annum.