No way to get Amflora off the field

[img_assist|nid=247|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]In 2007, the GM potato Amflora was cultivated on nearly 450 ha in Germany. The goal of the “field trial” as to produce seed potatoes just in case Amflora would be allowed for commercial cultivation. But another result now becomes quite obvious: GM potatoes cannot be kept under control and they cannot be cleared off the field completely. In summer 2008, despite repeated controls Amflora potatoes are happily growing on the field.

[img_assist|nid=242|title=Amflora volunteer|desc=|link=popup|align=right|width=100|height=133]Already during the potato dibbling things went wrong. The release was approved on 3 fields, but Amflora was also planted on 20 ha on a nearby field. These illegal plantings had to be destroyed, and the authorities proposed ploughing the field – a method that leaves viable potatoes and potato pieces behind.
On of the conditions of the approval in 2007 was that the field would have to be controlled for volunteer plants the following year. In July 2008 plants were found both on the official field as on the illegally planted field. This time the authorities ordered the destruction of the plants by herbicide, but at a second control in August plants were still growing on the field. Some of the plants looked quite healthy, with potatoes of up to 7 or 8 cm big. Potatoes as small a 0.5 cm can grow into new plants.
During the control, traces of of wild boar where found on the field, and some animals were seen in the vicinity. A clear sign that wild animals can feed on Amflora, even though in the monitoring plan proposed by BASF and in the EFSA opinion none of this is mentioned. At the time of the control, maize was cultivated on the field, so that it was impossible to overview the whole field. In order to find all the potato plants it would be necessary to walk through the whole field row by row.
The fact that that the EU and German laws allow for the production of seed potatoes as a field trial release was already surprising enough, but now this has proven that in fact more trials would be necessary to find ways to actually stop the spread and growing of GM potatoes in the next season.
At the same time BASF went to court to force the European Union to approve Amflora for commercial cultivation. BASF is now threatening to stop all of its development of GM crops in Europe if the approval is not given soon. Actually that sounds like a good idea...

And the maize? The maize growing on the former Amflora fields is now not allowed to be used as animal feed, because it is contaminated with a GMO that is not approved as animal feed. Due to a change of the German law on genetic engineering, however, it does not have to be destroyed but can be used for bio-ethanol production. Critics had already pointed out that this change in the law would slightly lower the financial risk for farmers who contaminate other fields.