April 2, 2008 / 10:24 AM / 11 years ago

Germany approves GMO sugar and potato field trials

HAMBURG, April 2 (Reuters) - Germany’s state food safety agency said on Wednesday it approved open-air field trials of sugar beet and potatoes containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The company Planta has been given permission to sow 12,000 square metres of GMO sugar beet at two locations between 2008 and 2011, agency BVL said.

BASF Plant Science, part of German chemicals group BASF BASF.DE, has been given approval to plant GMO potatoes on 30,000 square metres divided among three locations between 2008 and 2012.

“The BVL’s safety assessment came to the conclusion that the open-air trials would not have any dangerous influence on humans or animals or the environment,” the agency said.

The crops may not be sold as food or animal feed.

The GMO sugar beet in the trials is resistant to the weed killer glyphosat.

To prevent GMO organisms being spread by pollen, Planta must check sugar beets every two weeks for flowering and destroy any flowers before they bloom, the agency said. There must be a 10-metre gap between the GMO potatoes and conventional crops.

The potatoes were being tested for resistance to several and for their starch content, it said.

The European Union has legalised commercial production of several GMO maize varieties but field trials on other GMO crops require approval from national governments.

German farmers have registered intentions with the BVL to plant 4,413 hectares of GMO maize commercial production in the 2008 crop, up from 2,753 ha harvested in 2007, the agency said in March.

Although up on the year, the total is only a negligible part of German annual maize cultivation of around 1.8 million ha.

Reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by Chris Johnson

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