Twelve years after announcing its genetic Amflora potato, BASF Plant Science has filed an action with the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg against the EU Commission for failure to act.
According to the company, the approval process of the cultivation of Amflora, its genetically improved potato, has been unjustifiably delayed by the EU Commission on several occasions.
In particular, this includes the period between July 2007 and May 2008 during which Commissioner Stavros Dimas did not adopt the approval for the cultivation of Amflora following the completion of all other procedural steps.
The chemical giant says failure to approve Amflora is costing the company around €30million a year in licence income.
"EU Commissioners have postponed Amflora's approval despite repeated positive safety assessments by EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority.
"Although we welcome some positive signs by the Commission and President Barroso, such as their commitment to base decisions regarding genetically modified products purely on science, we are not prepared to accept any further delays," said Dr Stefan Marcinowski, Member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE.
"We are filing this case in order to ensure that European farmers and starch producers get access to an innovative product that offers them a potential added value of more than €100 million annually," said Dr Hans Kast, CEO and President of BASF Plant Science GmbH.
BASF will decide later whether to seek damages from the commission, Dr Kast said.
The Amflora approval process started in August 1996 but, during the moratorium on genetically modified products from 1998 to 2004, no approvals were granted.
BASF resubmitted its dossiers for cultivation and for food and feeduse in2003 and 2005 due to changed EU regulations.
In 2006, the EFSA concluded that Amflora was and safe for humans, animals and the environment as any conventional potato.
In November 2006 Commissioner Dimas forwarded his proposal for cultivation authorisation to EU member states but, after two inconclusive votes, BASF say Dimas failed to stick to procedure and in April 2007 the company addressed the issue through an open letter to him.
The application to grow Amflora was passed on to the commission, the regulatory arm of the 27-nation European Union, in July last year after individual EU governments failed to reach an agreement.
Immediate approval would have required a qualified majority of about 74 per cent.
Under EU law, the EU Commission now has to decide upon the approval of the genetically-optimised starch potato Amflora.
The EU Commission initiated the approval process by showing support for the cultivation of Amflora with a recommendation for approval in their 'Draft Commission Decision'.
This Draft Decision is based on a positive evaluation of Amflora by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).