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Irish GMO potato experiment cancelled

category international | environment | press release author Tuesday May 09, 2006 22:46author by Michael O'Callaghan - GM-free Ireland Networkauthor email mail at gmfreeireland dot org Report this post to the editors

Co. Council declares Meath a GMO-free zone - BASF forced to cancel GMO experiment - Press conference at European Commission Office 10am Wednesday

Meath County Council last night unanimously passed two motions that are widely expected to force the world’s largest chemicals company BASF to abandon a controversial experiment with patented genetically modified (GMO) potatoes which it hoped to launch in the area this week.

In January, the German company BASF Plant Science GmbH notified Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its plans to start a five-year experiment with 450,000 genetically modified potatoes on a farm near Summerhill, Co. Meath. Following a public consultation process and a series of probing questions by EPA staff, the regulatory body approved the GMO experiment last Friday subject to BASF agreeing to 10 conditions, including a mandatory 4 year post-release monitoring period for environmental health risks.

At an emergency community meeting in Navan on Friday night, the EPA’s provisional go-ahead was criticized as a highly controversial and premature decision that ignored the health and environmental risks warnings of independent GM scientific experts, made in the face of total opposition from stakeholders across the country. Local farmers said the release of patented GMO crops could expose them to cross-contamination, mandatory GM labeling, loss of market share, demands for patent royalties, patent infringement lawsuits, and possible loss of ownership of their crops if they became infected with the patented GMO genes. Jim Cosgrave, a farmer from Enfield, said the locals were also extremely concerned about the impact on property values. “Who would want to buy or rent contaminated farmland?” he said. An Irish Times news poll yesterday found that 72 per cent of respondents oppose GM crop trials in Ireland.

The Council’s first motion declares Meath a GMO-free zone. This makes Meath the sixth county on the island to prohibit GMO seeds and crops, along with Cavan, Clare, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Roscommon, and the towns of Galway, Navan, Newry and Clonakilty. Meath benefits from some of the most fertile soils in Ireland and is home to the country’s largest potato growers. Its official GMO-free status has symbolic importance because Co. Meath (from the Gaelic word “Midhe” which means “centre”) was the ancient royal county of Ireland during the Neolithic and Celtic periods and the seat of the country’s High Kings at the Hill of Tara.

The Council’s second motion calls on the EPA to not allow the experimental growing of any GMO seeds or crops in Ireland.

Both motions were tabled by Green Party Councillor Tom Kelly. Councillors said that the EPA’s decision would produce experimental transgenic potatoes that could not be placed on the market either as animal feed or food, and that the EPA and BASF failed to apply for the planning permission that is consequently required by law for re-zoning the farmland from agricultural to development use. They also said the legal requirement imposed by the EPA for BASF to protect the site with a high-security electrical fence does not conform with normal agricultural practice under Section 5 of the Planning Act.

Frank Corcoran, Chairman of An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland, said the Meath Co. Council decisions will trigger a lengthy legal procedure that will effectively prevent the release of GMO crops in Meath for the foreseeable future.

Common sense and local democracy

Irish whiskey and Guinness were flowing last night as farmers, food producers, chefs and consumers celebrated the decision as a victory for common sense and local democracy. Michael O’Callaghan, co-ordinator of the GM-free Ireland Network which lobbied the Meath Co. Council extensively in advance of the EPA decision, said he was thrilled the Local Authority has taken responsibility to protect the County from an irreversible invasion of GM crops for which there is no market in Europe.

GMO crops are banned or restricted by six EU governments, and thousands of local areas across Europe.

Michael O’Callaghan said “Meath Co. Council has shown the wisdom of the subsidiarity principle, whereby political decisions on GM farming are best taken democratically at the local level by the farmers and citizens who will be affected by them, rather than by unaccountable bureaucrats in Dublin, the European Commission in Brussels, and the WTO in Geneva. My grandfather was a member of the first Dáil (Irish Government) which won independence and self-determination for the Irish people; he would be furious at our current government’s policy to introduce patented GMO seeds and crops -- a new form of corporate biological colonialism that would be be impossible to reverse”.

Commenting from Berlin on Meath Co. Council’s decision, Benedikt Haerlin, who organises the annual European GMO-free Regions conference, said the EC’s policy to force member states and regions to accept contamination of agricultural seeds and crops by GMOs is fundamentally and legally flawed. “We welcome Co. Meath’s initative which is backed by 175 regions and 3,500 local authorities in 22 EU member states” he said.

Call for Ireland to conserve its GMO-free status

The GM-free Ireland Network will host a press conference at the European Commission Office in Dublin at 10 am tomorrow (Wednesday 10 May), kicking off a series of European Day debates in the Dáil, including a speech by EC Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Mariann Fischer-Boel.

Politicians at the press conference will call for the whole island of Ireland to be declared a GMO-free biosphere reserve for the food security of other EU member states, and demand EU legislation that recognises the democratic right of member states and regions to prohibit GMO seeds and crops if they choose to do so.

Confirmed speakers include Kathy Sinnott MEP (Independent), Marian Harkin MEP (Independent), Green Party leader Trevor Sargent TD, Mary Upton TD (Labour Party spokesperson on Agriculture and Food), Michael Mulcahy TD (Fianna Fáil - Government Convener on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs and former Lord Mayor of Dublin), Martin Ferris TD (Sinn Fein spokesperson on Agriculture), Eddie Punch (General Secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers Association), and Michael O’Callaghan of GM-free Ireland. Senator James Bannon (Fine Gael Spokesperson on Environment, Local Government and Heritage in the Upper House and General Secretary of the Local Authority Members Association) may also attend.

ENDS

Attribution:

Michael O’Callaghan
Co-ordinator, GM-free Ireland Network
tel + 353 (0)404 43885
mobile + 353 (0)87 799 4761
email: mail@gmfreeireland.org
web: www.gmfreeireland.org

Related Link: http://www.gmfreeireland.org
author by Terencepublication date Wed May 10, 2006 11:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This announcement at the cancellation of the GM trials has got to be the best news that I have heard in a long time.

While this battle has been won, we have to ask ourselves have we won the war? And I would say No. Because this attack on our environment and our health will continue. They will no doubt step back for a short while, but will soon start applying the pressure either to start a new trial somewhere else in the country, but this time offering more carrots -no pun intended, or they will phone their friends in government who will try to intervene directly.

Who knows these GM trials could be declared of national strategic importance, in which case under the new pending Infrastructure Bill which will give the government power to over-rule everybody and anybody, they could then impose the scheme on us again backed of course by the media and security apparatus of the state to ensure all opposed to it are vilified in the press and arrested if necessary.

Please note for those interested in the disaster that is GM, there is very good critical coverage of it on the website of The Institute of Science in Society.

Url below.

Related Link: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/index.php
author by Curiouspublication date Wed May 10, 2006 11:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Unfortunately the Council vote does not have any legal standing so there is no onus on BASF or the EPA to act upon it. Politically of course it is a huge step and will make it more difficult for the GM lobby to press ahead with more licenses here. Hopefully it will also encourage other Councils to follow suit.

author by Curiois2publication date Wed May 10, 2006 13:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The trials are NOT cancelled.......BASF are meeting with Government officials this week.

author by Curious2publication date Wed May 10, 2006 13:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Irish Indo
Wednesday May 10th 2006

MEATH County Council has this week declared the county a "GM-free" zone but admitted the Environmental Protection Agency had already given the go-ahead to grow genetically modified potatoes there.

The council declared itself a "GM-free local authority" ............
..................German chemical giant BASF said yesterday that it will decide in the next few days whether to go ahead with its trial of genetically-modified potatoes in Co Meath. ..............But the declaration by Meath County Council does not appear to have any legal status.

author by curiouspublication date Wed May 10, 2006 13:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It would appear as though the original post is mis-titled. Several regions in EU states have passed laws to ban GM but these have or are being challenged by the EU - on behalf of the corporations who, through the US Government at WTO level, claim that they are interfering with competition and the market.

author by Coillte, and proud of it!publication date Wed May 10, 2006 13:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

‘Croke Patrick and the lament for the farmer’s friend’ was the name of an article that appeared in the Mayo Association Yearbook 2000 and again in 2002. The farmer’s friend was that lady that spent two to three hours turning locally produced farmer’s produce into good wholesome meals: - once known as the full time housewife. Today, the average meal maker (both couples working outside the home) only has 10 minutes to prepare the evening meal; thereby opening up a latent demand for tomatoes that don’t go off, GMOs etc.

GMOs are a by product of our chosen lifestyle. Irish farmers are also suffering the drop in sales of locally produced produce because of the falling birth-rate. There are close to 250,000 less children under 20 years of age in Ireland today than in the early 1980s. There might be more money around but it ain’t buying more food. Small local bakeries, drapery shops, national schools etc have closed down right around the country due to lower numbers of children (the official excuse is because of large supermarkets, but this is only one link in the excuse).

During the time of the great football years of Charlton and McCarthy, Jack Bootman the then president of the GAA was asked if he feared a potential threat from soccer. He indicated that the biggest challenge to the GAA was the falling birth rate. His comments went into outer space! Ignorance now reigns supreme in modern Gaelic Ireland and a lack of the true understanding of our present day welloffness. There are many amateur Soccer and GAA clubs that today are put to the pin of their collar to keep up the great traditions associated with games in their country areas.

We dismantle one icon after another of old Ireland, but we lack the skill to know the repercussions. Our schools no longer teach the subjects that gave us this knowledge or undrestanding e.g. Christian Doctrine, Classical Greek (the cradle of great thought and scientific discovery), Latin etc. Now all this seems to be replaced by ‘science for manipulation’ subjects i.e. business studies, accounting, and economics and so on. Our teenagers are programmed to behave like machines to fit in with a rudderless economic and Godless EU society! The lack of understanding is personified by the gusto that the USI is backing the distribution of condoms. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/75915

It appears that GMOs are inextricably linked with modern Western society and both will fizzle out together despite the best efforts of the anti GMO lobby. Being anti GMO is a symptom of our better understanding but is lost because of the dismantling of many other associated beliefs that went with such understanding i.e. those beliefs that result from the study in past days of ‘science for understanding’ subjects.

author by freakpublication date Wed May 10, 2006 14:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

http://www.unison.ie/meath_chronicle/stories.php3?ca=38...14020
Clash over claims at Navan anti-GM meeting - Meath Chronicle

Meanwhile, Meath County Council on Monday adopted a motion from Green Party councillor Tom Kelly to declare Meath a GM-free local authority.

The council also adopted Colr Kelly’s motion calling on the EPA not to allow the experimental growing of any GM products in Meath.

Members, including Fine Gael Trim area councillor, Peter Higgins, Colr Higgins suggested that, under the planning legislation, the question of whether or not this was an exempt development could be investigated. He said the council should seek advice on whether or not this trial required planning permission.

Council chairman, Colr Brian Fitzgerald, said he wanted an informed debate on the issue. A decision already had been made to have the matter discussed at Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) level. He told FG councillor, William Carey, who wanted the matter dealt with in the new County Development Plan, that it could still be included in that document.

http://www.ibec.ie/Sectors/IBIA/IBIADoclib3.nsf/wvICSS/...ument
IBIA IBEC biotech lobby talks up solving world hunger!

author by freakpublication date Wed May 10, 2006 16:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nicholas McCabe, a 74-year old retired Fianna Fáil Councillor from Co. Louth.Farm at Moynalvey beside the Teagasc Grange Research Centre in Summerhill. Teagasc denies it owns the land.
BASF Ireland Limited Bracetown Business Park Clonee Co Meath

The farmer that will leave you with no choice.
The farmer that will leave you with no choice.

Testsite - Nothing to do with Teagasc apparently
Testsite - Nothing to do with Teagasc apparently

author by olliepublication date Fri May 12, 2006 02:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

However, the county council are asking an bord pleanala if the trial should have planning, because it is not strictly agricultural, in their eyes.

The council adpoted a motion which suggests the trial is 'experimental' and therefor more in line with industrial development, and of an experiemntal nature at that.

The EPA claim (rightly) that they are the competent authority, but they cnanot even comment on planning disputes between the local authorities and an bord pleanala.

The most likely outcome of this decision is a delay. A redefination of GMO trials as non-agricultural is another possibility, though probably a less likely one.

Other factors, such as public disquiet, could of course also effect the decision...it could be, like the nuclear power station at Carinsore point in 1981, 'posponed' - FF don't do 'cancelled'

author by freakpublication date Fri May 12, 2006 16:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Are EPA the competent authority they don't seem to think so.

"A lot of the issues raised here (green image, GM free status, economic profit for companies, no market for GM crops, farming in decline etc) are policy matters pertaining to GM crops and I believe that they are a matter for the Government who decides on policy in these areas and thus fall outside the Agency’s remit.

Whether Ireland should be a GM free zone is a policy matter for the government and outside the remit of the Agency.

I note that public opinion is opposed to eating GM food, however, this is again a policy issue and is outside the Agency’s remit.

The regulation of GM food is outside the Agency’s remit as previously outlined under section C above."


http://www.epa.ie/Licensing/GMOLicensing/DeliberateRele...toes/

Thanks for the update Ollie, saying it was cancelled was bit foolish.

author by freakpublication date Sun May 28, 2006 04:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

OK the cancellation for this year has been confirmed by BASF themselves, it seems like they had never left much leeway time wise for the review and granting of the license that they have now recieved, and afaik it seems to be the monitoring conditions in the licence introduced by those in the EPA committee who are less eager to give BASF free reign that has deterred them.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/breaking/story.asp?j=39017...32&x=

It can't doing any harm to email to your MEP to ask them to sign an agreement to allow individiual nations and region to ban GMO like Poland has just done.
http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6573
You can find ready list of the e-mails to the MEPs and also example of letters which you can use at http://icppc.pl/pl/gmo/index.php?id=224.

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