EU court annuls approval of BASF's Amflora GMO potato
It was only the second time a genetically modified plant had been approved for cultivation in Europe, and prompted an angry response from environmental campaigners and consumer groups who strongly oppose the technology.
It also led to a legal challenge against the decision by Hungary, supported by other EU countries opposed to GMOs, including France, Austria and Poland.
The Commission first proposed the cultivation and sale of Amflora in 2007, following a positive scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Following the failure of EU government ministers and officials to approve or reject the proposal, the Commission exercised its power to grant approval unilaterally in 2010.
But in its judgment, the General Court said that following the publication of an updated scientific opinion by EFSA in 2009, the Commission should have submitted new proposals for approval by EU governments rather than simply adopting its 2007 version.
"The Commission infringed the procedural rules of the systems for authorising GMOs in the European Union," the court concluded.
BASF said the ruling vindicated its decision two years ago to move the BASF Plant Science headquarters to the United States and stop the development of genetically modified seeds for commercialisation in Europe.
"The ruling underscores that it was the right decision in January 2012 to focus our plant biotechnology activities on markets with future relevance."
BASF added the potato was deemed safe by the EFSA and that Friday's court ruling was about procedures and not about the scientific appraisal of the product.