Small quantities of the Amadea potato, a GM potato for which BASF filed a request for EU authorisation last week, were found in Amflora fields planted in northern Sweden in June.
Amflora, which is also a GM potato, was approved for planting for industrial purposes by the EU in March (EurActiv 03/03/10). Cultivation of Amflora has already begun in Sweden, the Czech Republic and Germany.
The Swedish authorities have demanded the removal of all Amadea plants from Swedish fields, but they are allowing Amflora plants to remain. A Commission spokesman said yesterday (6 September) that the EU executive had asked BASF to come to Brussels to explain the situation.
There was obviously some kind of mistake or blunder which led to the wrong potato being sent to Sweden, said EU Health Commissioner John Dalli's spokesman, Frédéric Vincent.
BASF acknowledged that extremely small quantities of Amadea potatoes in Amflora fields planted in northern Sweden were identified during the course of regular in-house quality controls, and said the competent Swedish authority was informed of the matter at the end of August.
The contamination was identified because Amadea flowers are white, while Amflora only develops a few violet flowers. The cause of what BASF refers to as "co-mingling" is currently being thoroughly analysed, the company added.
According to BASF, the level of co-mingling is less than 0.01%, which translates into 47 Amadea plants among approximately 680,000 Amflora plants.
Following the incident, Amflora fields in Germany and the Czech Republic were also monitored, but no Amadea potatoes were identified in these fields, BASF stressed.
Citizens' initiative on approval of GM crops?
According to Greenpeace, over 750,000 Europeans have already signed a petition calling for a moratorium on all new GM crops in the EU until a proper safety regime has been put in place by the European Commission.
The green NGO hopes the petition will attract the one million signatures needed to launch a citizens' initiative on the matter.
The European Citizens' Initiative was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty to empower citizens to directly participate in the EU legislative process. Once an initiative has attracted one million signatures from citizens who are nationals of a significant number of EU member states, the Commission, as a college, is obliged to give serious consideration to the requests made.