EU Court of Justice bans transgenic potatoes

In the European Union, transgenic products can only be sold prior authorization. March 2010, the European Commission allowed BASF German company to sell the Amflora potatoe, which is genetically modified. The EU Court of Justice has sentenced this friday that, in that case, Brussels violated the authorization process regulations and it is now banning any transgenic potatoe sale aorund the Community territory.

Luxemburg tribunal considers that if no regulation had been violated, the result of the procedure ‘would had been completely different’. When the Commission receives a request to authorizes some transgenic product authorization, it demands a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that need to be validated afterwards through two committees representing the Member Estates. Brussels respected all the steps needed, but during the procecdure, in 2005, it received information regarding some contradictions among the scientific statements of EFSA. It was then when the process was not completely respected: a new EFSA report was requested, accepting the transgenic product, but this report was not presented later before the two committees which needed to have their word on the issue. This new document, presented on 2009, certified that the Amflora potatoe did not represent any risk for the human health nor the environment, and the Commission authorized its sales on market on March 2010.

The judges estimate that the committees vote were ‘really split’ in 2005 and the last EFSA report presented ‘more uncertainties’ than the first one. According to the tribunal, there is no telling if the two committees, having assessed the second report, would have approved that second time the authorization to harvest and sell this modified potatoe. Hungary did consider that the potatoe could be dangerous for its consumption and even lodged an appeal against the Commission which was backed up by France, Luxemburg, Austria and Poland. The tribunal agrees now with these Member Estates and disallowes selling any Amflora potatoe.

A spokesperson has stated this morning that the Commission will ‘take notes’ for now and analyze the situation ‘with the sentence lawyers’. Brussels takes back its intention of keep working with the EU Member Estates on the transgenic products regulation that has caused so much suspicion among the European citizens. However, it reminds the Counsil representing the Estates that a decission concerning this products must be taken.

European consumers are not totally fond of transgenic food. This reluctancy (added up to the opposition of growers, politicians and NGOs as Greenpeace) made in 2012 BASF company end up with its plans of commercialization and development of three different types of transgenic potatoe, including the already banned by the Tribunal of Luxemburg.