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BUSINESS & APPROVAL: European starch industry demands swift approval of GE potatoes

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AUTHOR: Press Release


DATE:   09.12.2008

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- Genetically modified starch potatoes estimated to generate an additional ?100-200 million annual added value

- Added value helps the European potato starch industry to maintain competitiveness

Foxhol/Netherlands, Emlichheim/Germany, Kristianstad/Sweden, Limburgerhof/ Germany: The leading European potato starch companies AVEBE, Emsland-Stärke, and Lyckeby Industrial demand the use of innovative technologies in agriculture. According to the starch producers, genetically optimized starch potatoes like Amflora from BASF Plant Science are good examples for such innovations. Their request has been prompted by the recent EU Commission decision from November 20, 2008 to cut the subsidies for the production of starch potatoes.

The producers are concerned that the reduction of production subsidies will compromize the profitability of starch potato cultivation. AVEBE, Emsland-Stärke, and Lyckeby Industrial want to meet this challenge by using new potato varieties with optimized starch composition that create added value. For pure amylopectin starch, as it can be extracted from Amflora, the starch industry predicts an additional market value of ?100 to 200 million per year allowing them to strengthen their competitive position. The starch producers estimate that the added value will benefit farmers and help compensate part of the impact of the curtailing of subsidies. Furthermore, much needed jobs in regions with weak infrastructure could be secured.

?It?s incomprehensible that the approval of Amflora has been delayed by the EU-Commission for years. The responsible politicians should re-consider the consequences of their non-acting against the background of the severe economical situation,? demanded Bengt Olof Johansson, Managing Director of Lyckeby Industrial. ?The fact that farmers in other regions of this world have access to innovative products, whereas farmers in Europe hardly have any opportunity to profit from genetically enhanced crops, endangers our competitiveness.?

?In order to remain competitive, potato farmers and starch industry need innovative alternatives that generate more value per hectare. A positive scientific safety evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) should automatically lead to approval for growing genetically modified crops,? added Gerben Meursing, Managing Director Commerce of the starch producer AVEBE.

?We urge the politicians to provide a clear framework and to finally allow farmers and starch industry to use plant biotechnology,? Michael Schonert, Managing Director of Emsland-Stärke said.

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.


AVEBE (Veendam, the Netherlands), EMSLAND (Emlichheim, Germany) and LYCKEBY INDUSTRIAL (Kristianstad, Sweden) are potato starch companies that produce potato starch-based solutions. AVEBE, EMSLAND and LYCKEBY INDUSTRIAL operate worldwide; have production locations in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Czech Republic.

About BASF Plant Science

BASF ? the Chemical Company ? consolidated its plant biotechnology activities in BASF Plant Science in 1998. Today, about 700 employees are working to optimize crops for more efficient agriculture, renewable raw materials and healthier nutrition. Projects include yield increase in staple crops, higher content of Omega-3s in oil crops for preventing cardiovascular diseases, and potatoes with optimized starch composition for industrial use.

To find out more about BASF Plant Science, please visit



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