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APPROVAL: BASF disappointed at Amflora decision delay




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  BASF DISAPPOINTED AT AMFLORA DECISION DELAY

SOURCE: Food Navigator, France

AUTHOR: Jess Halliday

URL:    http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/ng.asp?n=77783-basf-amflora-gm

DATE:   29.06.2007

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BASF DISAPPOINTED AT AMFLORA DECISION DELAY

29/06/2007 - BASF is standing by the safety of its Amflora genetically optimised starch potato as the EU Council of Ministers postpones its decision on commercial optimisation, and urges swifter adoption of new technologies for the bloc.

Amflora was referred to the Council of Ministers for a decision over whether it may be commercially cultivated in Europe in December, after the EC’s regulatory committee failed to meet a qualified majority. The German firm has stressed that the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) has ”repeatedly stated that Amflora is for humans, animals and the environment as safe as any conventional potato”.

The grounds for the postponement have not been disclosed, and it was not known at time of publication when a decision may be forthcoming. In the event that the vote in the Council of Ministers does not result in a qualified majority either, the European Commission will decide on the dossier.

The ongoing delay is certainly a frustration for BASF, which has high hopes the potato will be the first genetically enhanced product to be approved for cultivation in Europe since 1998. A small number of GM products have been allowed however, as a result of a default process that applies after a period of non-agreement.

For BASF, it is symptomatic of a head-in-the-sand attitude to biotech innovation in Europe, which many believe will cause it to be left behind as the rest of the world marches on.

Earlier this month trade commissioner Peter Mandelson delivered a strong exhortation to the EU to take a lead in shaping global rules on GM trade - particularly in defending objective science as a benchmark - or suffer the economic consequences.

He called biotechnology ”the coal face of applied science in the 21st century” and said that if the EU does not work through the issues raised by GM food, just as the rest of the global market is doing, it will not be working it its own best interests.

And if the EU falls behind in approving safe biotechnology, it would open itself up to economic risks.

BASF plant science president and CEO Dr Hans Kast said: ”We call upon Europe’s politicians to show their true commitment to innovation and speed up the approval of new technologies and their resulting products.”

He called Amflora ”a perfect example of an innovative product, which benefits the entire value chain from farmers to producers.”

Amflora, a renewable resource, helps to save raw materials, energy and costs in industrial production through its optimized starch composition.

Nearly all starches have two components - a high molecular weight, highly branched molecule with excellent thickening properties, called amylopectin, and a smaller, linear molecule which gels, called amylose.

Amflora is a genetically optimised potato that produces pure amylopectin starch. BASF said that this breakthrough was achieved by tweaking the pathway by which it is made in the plant cells.

The 20 per cent amylose in normal potato starch limits its usefulness for many industrial applications. Separation of the two components is not economic, so most industrial starch is first chemically modified to reduce the gelling tendency.

Europe is already a significant producer of potato starch. Normal potato starch is valued for its high molecular weight (giving excellent thickening properties) and low levels of fat and protein compared to wheat and cornstarch.

EuropaBio has spoken out in favour of Amflora, saying it would strengthen the competitiveness of the potato starch industry.

Environmentalists have argued that the cultivation of GM potatoes would increase the risk of contamination of the food chain.

But the European Association for BioIndustries has said that the innovation was only made possible through genetic modification.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  EU COUNCIL OF MINISTERS POSTPONES DECISION ON COMMERCIAL CULTIVATION OF THE GENETICALLY OPTIMIZED STARCH POTATO AMFLORA

SOURCE: BASF. Germany

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.corporate.basf.com/en/presse/mitteilungen/pm.htm?pmid=2762&id=V00-9JrtCAhXjbcp.GP

DATE:   28.06.2007

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EU COUNCIL OF MINISTERS POSTPONES DECISION ON COMMERCIAL CULTIVATION OF THE GENETICALLY OPTIMIZED STARCH POTATO AMFLORA

- Amflora is as safe as any conventional potato

- As a renewable resource, Amflora helps save raw materials, energy and costs

- BASF Plant Science calls for speedier adoption of innovative technologies in the EU

Today (June 28th, 2007) at a meeting in Luxembourg, the EU Council of Environmental Ministers did not discuss the approval of BASF’s genetically optimized potato, Amflora.

Amflora has been developed together with European experts in the potato starch industry, in order to strengthen the competitiveness of the European starch sector.

BASF Plant Science President & CEO Dr. Hans Kast stated: ”Plant biotechnology is a key technology for the 21st century; and Amflora is a perfect example of an innovative product, which benefits the entire value chain from farmers to producers.” Amflora, a renewable resource, helps to save raw materials, energy and costs in industrial production through its optimized starch composition.

”We call upon Europe’s politicians to show their true commitment to innovation and speed up the approval of new technologies and their resulting products,” Kast added.

The EU Commission recommends the cultivation of Amflora in its ”Proposal for a Council Decision”. This Decision is based on the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) positive evaluation of Amflora. EFSA has repeatedly stated that Amflora is for humans, animals and the environment as safe as any conventional potato.

The EU approval is a prerequisite for the commercial cultivation of Amflora. After approval, BASF’s starch potato will be the first genetically enhanced product to be permitted for cultivation in Europe since 1998.

BASF Plant Science expects to start commercial cultivation in 2008, in cooperation with the starch industry and their contract farmers.

 

About Amflora

Amflora is a genetically optimized potato, producing pure amylopectin starch, ideal for technical applications.

Conventional potatoes produce a mixture of amylopectin and amylose starch. For many technical applications, such as in the paper, textile and adhesives industries, only amylopectin is needed; separating the two starch components is uneconomical. Amflora produces pure amylopectin starch and thus helps to safe resources, energy and costs. Moreover: Paper produced with amylopectin starch has a higher gloss. Concrete and adhesives can be processed for a longer period of time.

 

About BASF Plant Science

All BASF activities involving plant biotechnology are incorporated in BASF Plant Science. BASF Plant Science coordinates an international research and technology platform with eight sites in five countries in Europe and North America and employs about 700 people. In addition, BASF Plant Science has established numerous complementary cooperations with research institutes, universities and biotechnology companies in Europe and North America.

The research activities of BASF Plant Science are concentrated in the areas of more efficient agriculture, renewable raw material and a healthier nutrition for humans and animals. These include, for example, plants with improved agronomic characteristics, a higher content of vitamins or omega-3 fatty acids for preventing cardiovascular diseases as well as plants with a higher nutritional value for animals.

During the 3-year period from 2006-08, BASF is dedicating a total of €400 million to the expansion of its plant biotechnology operations.

To find out more about BASF Plant Science, please see our Internet website at: www.basf.com/biotechnology.

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company – The Chemical Company. BASF has approximately 95,000 employees and posted sales of €52.6 billion (approximately $66.1 billion) in 2006. Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at www.basf.com.


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