April 5, 2012 / 5:30 PM / 8 years ago

BASF to undertake GMO potato trials in Europe

A cyclist rides his bike past the entrance of the BASF plant and former Ciba production site in Schweizerhalle near Basel July 7, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

HAMBURG (Reuters) - BASF said on Thursday it will undertake trial cultivation of potatoes containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) this year on less than one hectare on sites in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

The German chemicals group said in January it will transfer its main research into GMOs crops from Germany to the United States because of continued resistance to the crops in Europe.

But BASF said it would continue trials of crops still undergoing the lengthy European Union approvals process.

“To maintain all options for our potato varieties, we will continue, as announced, the approval processes already underway and the multiplication of seed material for that purpose,” Peter Eckes, president of BASF Plant Science, said in a statement.

“BASF is convinced that plant biotechnology is a technology of the future,” it said. “But in the mid-term, BASF does not see any opportunities for the commercial cultivation of genetically modified plants in Europe.”

Field trials will be conducted in the east Germany state of Saxony-Anhalt, in the provinces of Skane and Halland in Sweden, plus the provinces of Gelderland, Drenthe and Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands, BASF said.

The trials this year are to involve the starch potato Modena and blight-resistant variety Fortuna.

EU policy on GM crops has long been politically fraught, with a majority of consumers opposed to modified foods, but the bloc relies on imports of about 30 million tonnes of GM animal feed each year.

Reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by Jason Neely

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