The German Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Rainer Brüderle, helped start the harvesting of the Amflora potatoes in Zepkow in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Together with BASF's Chairman Dr Jürgen Hambrecht and Dr Stefan Marcinowski, Member of the Board of BASF's Board of Executive Directors responsible for plant biotechnology, the Minister harvested the first tubers of genetically modified starch potatoes.
This year BASF has successfully grown 14 hectares at this site. Brüderle stressed that plant biotechnology can play an important role in the competitiveness and sustainability of European agriculture.
"Today is a special day for plant biotechnology in Germany. In the future, the technology promises to provide solutions for many challenges that we are facing," said Brüderle.
BASF's Hambrecht said: "We are celebrating two milestones. Firstly, we are starting to bring in the Amflora potato harvest and secondly, we applied for approval for our next starch potato, Amadea, in Brussels yesterday."
"I hope that Amadea will be available to European farmers in the very near future. Crops optimised through biotechnology should not just provide benefits to farmers in America and Asia. Our European farmers should also get access to innovative products so they can remain competitive on the global agricultural markets," he added.
Amadea is a high-performing modern starch potato. Like Amflora, it produces pure amylopectin starch. Its agronomic properties and safety have been tested in field trials conducted over a number of years. BASF is expecting to launch the product in 2013/14 after receiving a positive safety assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Amadea is initially intended to complement Amflora cultivation and will later substitute BASF's first starch potato.