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BASF says GM potato is ready to eat

Chemical company BASF has applied for EU approval of a genetically modified potato variety for human and animal consumption.

The Fortuna potato is supposed to be resistant to late blight, a disease that regularly strikes potato crops in Europe. Germany-based BASF wants to start marketing the potato in 2014 or 2015, but first needs permission from the European Food Safety Authority.

On 3 November BASF announced that the potato, which has been under development since 2003, is assumed ready for safety testing and market introduction.

“Fortuna offers complete protection from one of the world’s most persistent potato diseases,” said Peter Eckes, president of BASF Plan Sciences. “By coupling Fortuna with modern plant protection measures, we are now in a position to offer a food which is produced with a highly sustainable method.”

The only GM potato type approved for commercial growth is Amflora. However, a second variety, Amadea, was discovered on BASF-maintained fields in Sweden a year ago, before it was officially passed by the EU.

BASF said the number of Amadea potatoes grown was minuscule, less than 0.01 per cent of total crop in the fields.