Cause of starch potato comingling identified
* Amflora and Amadea potatoes comingled by mistake in the same physical space
* BASF Plant Science to completely separate potato production systems
* BASF Plant Science to dispose of harvest from affected fields in Sweden
Limburgerhof, Germany – BASF Plant Science has identified the root cause of the starch potato comingling in northern Sweden. During the course of company’s regular internal quality assurance measures in August, BASF Plant Science discovered 47 Amadea plants in Amflora propagation fields and immediately reported this to the responsible authority. None of the potatoes have entered commercial potato starch processing. Amadea is BASF’s second genetically modified starch potato, which BASF Plant Science recently submitted for EU approval.
BASF Plant Science has provided representatives from the European Commission as well as from the countries where Amflora is currently cultivated, namely Sweden, the Czech Republic and Germany, access to all the documents regarding its potato production. Additionally, the company proposed improvements to the production system and the quality assurance. The history of all the potatoes was traced. This root cause analysis identified the temporary cultivation of Amadea and Amflora plants in the same physical space in the early seed propagation stage as the cause for the comingling. BASF Plant Science will therefore discard the harvests from all the affected potato fields in northern Sweden. This affects approximately 16 hectares.
“We traced back the cause and can narrow the comingling down to a part of our harvest in Sweden,” said Peter Eckes, President of BASF Plant Science. “The mix-up occurred because Amadea and Amflora plants were in close proximity to each other at our facilities. We regret this very much. To prevent such mistakes in the future, we will ensure complete separation of the production systems for Amadea and Amflora.”
The Amflora potatoes being cultivated in fields in Germany and the Czech Republic came from different seed lots which have always been cultivated separately from Amadea seed lots. This year, BASF Plant Science cultivated Amflora on 150 hectares in the Czech Republic and 15 hectares in Germany. There is no indication of the presence of Amadea potatoes in these seed lots. Subject to the decisions of the national authorities, the harvest from the Czech Republic is planned to be used for starch extraction whereas the harvest from Germany is intended for seed production.
The EU Commission wants to evaluate some additional information before making a decision on the usage of the remaining seed lots in Sweden. BASF Plant Science has already provided the requested information. The root cause analysis carried out by BASF Plant Science shows that the remaining seed lots are unaffected.
BASF Plant Science will prevent unintentional comingling of potato varieties from happening in future by taking the following additional measures:
* The production of approved potatoes such as Amflora will be separated completely from potatoes which are still in the stages of approval or development.
* All plants will also be subjected to molecular analysis at an early stage of propagation before being planted in the field for the first time.
* BASF Plant Science will further develop the quality controls in potato cultivation in close alignment with the European as well as national authorities.
Background information on the production system:
About Amflora and Amadea
Amflora and Amadea are two genetically modified potato varieties that produce pure amylopectin starch. Conventional potatoes produce a mixture of amylopectin and amylose. In many potato starch applications, for example in the paper, adhesive and food industries, only amylopectin is needed, and separating the two starch components is uneconomical. Amflora and Amadea produce pure amylopectin starch and thus help to save resources, energy as well as costs.
Moreover, paper coated with amylopectin starch has a higher gloss, and the addition of amylopectin starch to concrete and adhesives can be processed for a longer period of time.
In the case of Amflora, BASF Plant Science and its partners in the starch industry decided to focus on industrial applications.
Due to the demand for amylopectin starch in the food industry, BASF Plant Science will be working with its partners to evaluate potential applications for its Amadea potato in this area.
About BASF Plant Science
BASF Plant Science – a BASF group company - is one of the world’s leading companies providing innovative plant biotechnology solutions for agriculture. Today, about 700 employees are helping farmers meet the growing demand for improved agricultural productivity and healthier nutrition for humans and animals. BASF Plant Science has developed an unparalleled gene discovery platform focusing on yield and quality traits in crops such as corn, soybean and rice. Jointly with leading partners in the seed industry BASF Plant Science is commercializing its products. Current projects include higher yielding row crops, nutritionally-enhanced corn for animal feed or higher content of Omega-3’s in oil crops for preventing cardiovascular diseases. To find out more about BASF Plant Science, please visit www.basf.com/plantscience.
BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics and performance products to agricultural products, fine chemicals as well as oil and gas. As a reliable partner BASF creates chemistry to help its customers in virtually all industries to be more successful. With its high-value products and intelligent solutions, BASF plays an important role in finding answers to global challenges such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility. BASF posted sales of more than €50 billion in 2009 and had approximately 105 ,000 employees as of the end of the year. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN). Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at www.basf.com.
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