GMO potato deemed safe by EU agency

German chemical maker BASF said on Thursday its genetically modified potato, Amflora, designed to yield industrial starch, has again been described as safe for humans in a recommendation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

"Today's assessment gives the entire EU Commission the final scientific clarity to approve Amflora," said Stefan Marcinowski, executive board member in charge of BASF's plant science and pesticides business.

"I am pleased, since the EU Commission stated in May 2008 that it will approve Amflora 'if and when' EFSA has confirmed the safety of the product."

Shares in BASF were up 0.7 percent at 1011 GMT, while Germany's DAX top-30 index was 0.5 percent higher.

BASF in July last year took legal action against the European Commission, saying it unjustifiably delayed the approval process for Amflora, which BASF started 12 years ago.

BASF has been awaiting European Commission clearance of Amflora since July 2007, and hopes the fresh EFSA recommendation will result in the Commission giving its approval.

Thursday's recommendation by the EFSA follows its initial assessment in 2006 that Amflora was safe for humans and the environment.

Amflora was engineered not for human consumption but to yield high amounts of a type of starch that can be used by the paper and textiles industry.

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