Food Industry

Published on April 15th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


Genetically Modified ‘Frankenstein Potato’ Comes to Europe

The EU recently approved cultivation of a genetically modified potato through controversial means.


Since I’m living in Europe now, I have been slightly comforted to know that genetically modified (GM) crops could not be grown here. I thought that at least one small continent could remain free of this very unnatural phenomenon. Of course, I was just slightly comforted because 1) the rest of my family and most of my friends still live in the US and 2) I am concerned with the effects GM crops will have, and are already having, on the whole world.

Unfortunately, the small comfort I had in the EU not allowing GM crops to be grown within its borders has diminished significantly in the past month or so.

The cultivation of a certain genetically modified potato, which some refer to as the ‘Frankentstein potato’, was approved by the European Commission on March 2, 2010. This is the first authorization of a GM crop in the EU in 12 years. The decision was made by a new group of European Commissioners and debate in the whole College of Commissioners was avoided via a so-called written procedure — the only way this could have been approved given the widespread opposition to GM crops within the EU.

Friends of the Earth’s Heike Moldenhauer says: “The commissioner whose job is to protect consumers has, in one of his first decisions, ignored public opinion and safety concerns to please the world’s biggest chemical company.”

This potato is not to be grown for human consumption but for other purposes (to start). Nonetheless, there are some European countries, like Italy and Austria, that are strongly against the introduction of these GM potatoes due to concerns of eventual health and environmental disaster.

Austria has said that it will outlaw the potato and Italy’s Agriculture Minister, Luca Zaia, plans to “defend and safeguard traditional agriculture and citizens’ health” from it.

In total, at least 12 countries have now moved to block the potato’s cultivation.

Discussing how this decision “flies in the face of science, public opinion and EU law,” Greenpeace states: “Medical experts are increasingly concerned about antibiotic resistance and an EU law was adopted in 2001 requiring that antibiotic resistance genes that could pose a threat to human health and the environment are phased out by the end of 2004.”

Human Health Concerns

Those concerned worry that GM crops “could eventually reduce biodiversity and natural resistance to pests and disease, and that it is very hard to stop them cross-pollinating with non-GM crops.”

There is wide concern that GM crops like the Amflora potato (its company-given name) will create tougher and tougher bacteria and will likely interfere with the efficacy of numerous antibiotics, a problem EU’s pharmaceutical regulator sees rising for both human and veterinary medicine.

“The European Medical Authority (EMA), the agency that evaluates medicinal products in the continent, said Amflora contains a gene that produces an enzyme which generally confers resistance to several antibiotics, including kanamycin, neomycin, butirosin, and gentamicin”

There is particular concern for those with tuberculosis. “It could raise bacterial resistance to life-saving medicines, including drugs used for the treatment of tuberculosis,” says Greenpeace E.U. agriculture policy director Marco Contiero. “This is an unacceptable risk to human and animal health as well as to the environment.”

Image Credit 1: tatantan via flickr under a CC license
Image Credit 2: tatantan via flickr under a CC license

Keep up with the latest sustainable food news by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

4 Responses to Genetically Modified ‘Frankenstein Potato’ Comes to Europe

  1. PotatoPro says:

    If this topic interests you, you may also find "History and Future of GM Potatoes" of interest:

  2. Potatoes are one of the most common vegetables all over the world. They are cheap, easy to cook and have so many health benefits.
    You can bake them, boil them, microwave them… everyone can make something to eat with potatoes.I will start to grow tomatoes
    in my farm and now learning watever i can about them, thanks for information. I also found another good site
    about potatoes and so many other methods of agriculturing, i recommend you to take a look.

  3. Pingback: Protato: Genetically Modified Potato – Eat Drink Better

  4. Pingback: European Countries May Soon Not Be Able to Ban GMOs – Eat Drink Better

Back to Top ↑
  • Support our Site!

  • Advertisement

  • Let’s Connect!

  • Advertisement

  • Popular Posts & Pages

    Whether you are looking to completely give up animal products or just want to try eating vegan some of the time, we want to support you! Below, you’ll find articles answering some common questions about vegan cooking and nutrition. If you don’t see your question answered below, please get in touch with us! We are happy to investigate for you!

    Find out what's in season now, plus get plenty of recipe inspiration to help you make the most of every season's beautiful, local fare.

    I love infographics. When I came across this one about what, how, and when to plant vegetables, I thought I’d share. Keep reading after the pic for a few of my own lessons learned.

    Top Sustainable Food Jobs of the Week.

    Looking for an all vegan grocery store? Even if you’re not lucky enough to have one in your town, there are lots of online options for vegan grocery shopping.

  • Advertisement

  • Search the IM Network

  • The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.