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New genetically modified potato casts shadow on traditional fries and crisps

Press release - November 1, 2011
German chemical company BASF yesterday requested EU approval to grow GM potato Fortuna on a commercial scale and market it for human consumption and animal feed.


The potato derives from a variety used by the food industry for French fries, according to BASF. It is engineered to resist a plant disease called late blight.

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer said: “Blight is a serious problem for farmers, but we should not focus on technical short-term fixes that create new environmental risks, increase farmers’ dependence on multinational companies and reduce genetic diversity. To the contrary, we should put our resources into sustainable ways to tackle blight, such as crop rotation and conventional breeding of potatoes.”

Official EU polls show a majority of Europeans are hostile to GM food [1]. A 2010 survey by Greenpeace Germany showed that fries and crisp producers do not intend to use GM potatoes [2].

BASF caused a stir in 2010 when its antibiotic-resistant GM potato Amflora became the first crop to be authorised in the EU after 12 years. It has proved to be a commercial flop [3].

Last year BASF caused illegal contamination of a Swedish field with an unauthorised GM potato. The company blamed human error.

Genetic modification is a new and imprecise technique, which regularly produces unexpected results. Long term studies on human health and environmental impacts are severely lacking [4].


[1] Special Eurobarometer 341/Wave 73.1, Biotechnology, October 2010: 61% of EU citizens oppose the development of GM food in Europe.
[2] Click here.
[3] Cultivation of the antibiotic-resistant GM potato was expected to decline to under 20 hectares in 2011. Click here and here.
[4] For more information, read the two page briefing Environmental and health impacts of GM crops - the science

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer +32 (0)496 161582
Greenpeace EU media officer Jack Hunter +32 (0)476 988584