BRUSSELS, Belgium - Avebe, which produces potato starch, cannot be fined for failing to remove genetically modified potatoes from the ground, according to a decision of the Dutch council of state, because the fields concerned belong to farmers and not to the company.

Avebe had been conducting field trials with GM potatoes in the Netherlands for several years and environmental groups had raised concerns that the end products were ending up in the human food and animal feed chains, despite the fact that no GM potatoes have been approved in the EU.

The EU's Scientific Committee on Plants delivered an unfavorable opinion on the GM potato in autumn 1998, saying that "insufficient risk assessment has been carried out with respect to specific genes or gene elements."

- Peter O'Donnell

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