‘Frankenstein Potato’ Not for Human Consumption
This potato will not be created for human consumption. Due to its high level of starch, it will be used by industrial customers, mainly in paper and textile production. The point Greenpeace brings up is that this potato is completely unnecessary given that some conventionally grown non-GMO potatoes already contain this same increased starch content without introducing a GM antibiotic resistant gene into the environment.
Although the potato cannot be produced for human consumption (yet), it’s skin can be fed to cows without the meat of those cows later being labeled as genetically modified.
Arguing for the potato, BASF says: “Amflora starch can be used in many different ways. It makes yarn stronger and paper glossier; it also makes spray concrete adhere better to the wall and keeps glue liquid for longer.” Of course, BASF is expected to benefit quite a bit financially from this potato. It expects that “Amflora [will] earn it twenty-to-thirty million euros per season.”
Organic and conventional producers, however, fear that they will see higher costs as they will have to incorporate efforts to keep food consumption chains GMO-free.
This insightful comment comes from a discussion in The Financial Express on how GM agriculture is more political than anything else: “Multinational corporations are making attempts to control the food chain. Incidentally these multinational corporations are based in industrialized countries where corporate farming and industrialized agriculture are largely prevalent, backed by heavy subsidies.” It is argued that without these massive subsidies, industrialized agriculture and biotech aren’t actually economically feasible.
According to BASF, the German chemicals group that created the Amflora potato and submitted the application for this potato to be approved for cultivation in 2005, the genetically modified potatoes are planned to be grown on 250 hectares in Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
The only other GM crop that has ever been authorized for commercial growing in the EU is Monsanto’s MON 810 maize. It’s cultivated only in Spain, Romania, Portugal, Slovakia and Czech Republic.
At the same time that they cleared this potato for growth in the EU, the Commission also approved of three GM maize products (not grown in the EU) being placed on the European market.
Image Credit: Kaptain Kobold via flickr under a CC license