Differences of opinion will be the final blow for Avebe transgenic potato, so reads the heading of a detailed background article in the Agrarisch Dagblad of Saturday 4 August 2001. This article describes the demise, after ten years, of a project by the Avebe potato group which aimed to achieve large-scale cultivation of a potato developed in 1989 as the result of genetic modification. This potato no longer contained amylose starch, only amylose pectin starch. This was to simplify the processing of the potato considerably, resulting in a substantial reduction of costs. Initially cultivation was permitted - after just a few years about 200 Dutch farmers were growing a total of some 1200 hectares a year - but, after the scientific committee of the European Union had called the safety of the potato into question in 1998, cultivation of the potato was banned in the year 2000. There was the fear that because of the genetic modification used, the potato, once released into the environment, could lead to resistance to kanamycine, an essential antibiotic in the health care industry, and the chemical amykacine derived from it. Both these products play an important role, particularly in the treatment of serious pulmonary disorders and blood poisoning. There is considerable debate among scientists about the legitimacy of this fear. Stopping the project resulted in (direct) loss to Avebe of more than 8,000,000 Euro.
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