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[SANET-MG] BASF drops GM potato tests in Ireland
Planet Earth News
BASF Drops Plan to Test GM Potatoes in Ireland
DUBLIN - German chemicals firm BASF has decided against planting
genetically modified potato crops in Ireland this year, the country's
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Wednesday.
Ireland, Europe's biggest per capita consumer of potatoes, gave the
go-ahead earlier this month for BASF to grow varieties of the crop
modified with improved resistance to late potato blight, which brought
famine to Ireland in the 19th century.
"We've just been told they they are not going to go ahead this year," a
spokeswoman for the EPA, which awarded the licence, said.
BASF Plant Science said in a statement that the EPA's consent had
contained a number of conditions and that it had been looking for
clarification in certain areas.
"Due to the limited time restrictions of the planting season, it has
been decided not to conduct the field trials in 2006," the company said.
Having tested blight-resistant potatoes in Sweden in 2005, it would
perform field trials in Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany this year,
BASF's plant biotechnology unit added.
Previous trials of GM foods in Ireland have been disrupted by
Ireland's Green Party called on the the EPA to reverse its decision to
allow GM trials.
"The EPA...must not give in to any demands from BASF," Green Party
Leader Trevor Sargent said in a statement.
"Now is the opportunity to ensure that Ireland remains a GM-free
producing island. Ireland's traditional GM-free food status is a key
selling point for Irish food exports and must be protected."
The EPA said the licence would remain in place but would not be altered
in any way.
"The licence is set now," the spokeswoman said.
Blight-resistant GM potatoes were first developed in 2003 after
scientists discovered a wild potato in Mexico that is naturally
resistant to the disease.
The field trials were to be have been carried out at a one hectare site
in County Meath.
The licence gave BASF the right to conduct trials for five years from
2006 to 2010, with monitoring continuing until 2014.
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