GM potato banned anew
Vienna – Invoking the EU’s safeguard clause, the Austrian parliament has unanimously instructed its Ministry of Health to establish a specific legal measure to prohibit the cultivation of the biotech potato Amflora in the country. Health Minister Alois Stöger signed a decree at the end of April prohibiting the cultivation of Amflora, threatening fines for transgressors. Stöger has the support of the majority of the Austrian parliament, which criticised Amflora because it carries a gene for resistance to certain antibiotics. Releasing it into the environment could raise bacterial resistance to life-saving medicines, they said, including drugs used for the treatment of tuberculosis. Austria also blamed the EU for putting the interests of potato producers before human health, and noted that Amflora cultivation is not necessary, as some conventional varieties have the same characteristics. In March, the European Commission finally greenlighted Amflora more than a decade after developer BASF SE filed the first application for approval. The decision ended what has been a long stalemate over a backlog of GM crops also awaiting authorisation. In Germany, planting Amflora has provoked protests by environmentalists, who blocked the depository warehouse where the potatoes were stored.