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Fianna Fáil Decision on GM food is dangerous and foolhardy

category national | miscellaneous | press release author Friday February 18, 2011 14:24author by R Report this post to the editors

The decision by the outgoing Fianna Fáil government to reverse Ireland's policy on genetically modified (GM)...

The decision by the outgoing Fianna Fáil government to reverse Ireland's policy on genetically modified (GM) food has been described as both dangerous and foolhardy by a leading Irish NGO. Speaking on behalf of Afri, Clare O’Grady Walshe, who has lectured on food politics and was a member of the Green Energy Task Force in 2009, described the government decision to no longer abstain in EU debates on GM food as having enormous implications for Irish people and the environment.

Ms. O’Grady Walshe, who is also a board member of the Irish Seed Savers Association, claimed that Ireland could take the lead in promoting GM-free agriculture, which would provide EU consumers with the food they want. She argues that such an approach, steeped in Irish culture and Irish uniqueness as a ‘green’ island on the edge of Europe, would be the best way of defending a sector that is worth €16.6 billion to our economy, 8% of GDP, and employs 150,000 people supporting some 128,000 family farms.

“At a time when the Irish food sector is enjoying success in difficult economic times, and when EU citizens continue to vote overwhelmingly for GM-free foods, this decision by Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith sets Ireland on a road towards increased collaboration with controversial technologies, whose main proponents are some of the worst polluting multinationals on the planet”, said Ms O’Grady Walshe.

Afri locates the decision in the context of the huge issues facing agriculture on a planet running out of oil and experiencing the ravages of climatic change. They point to expert reports, most notably the recent Review of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), which notes that “the most effective strategy to adapt agriculture to climate change is by growing diverse crops and increasing genetic diversity of the crop varieties we grow”. The IAASTD report specifically states that “questionable technological fixes such as transgenic crops/GM should be avoided”.

It is reported that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour agree on this policy of relaxing laws and allowing GM varieties to enter our food chain. Ms O’Grady Walshe describes the issue as fundamentally about democracy and transparency. “The GM lobby is the Anglo-Irish Bank of the agriculture and food sector and the people who are shouting stop in this area can be derided in the same way as those who called it correctly on the banking crisis; but this is much more important than money – because you can’t eat money – it’s about the food we eat and feed our children, which links us to people everywhere and to the earth we are so mindlessly destroying”, she concluded.

Related Link: http://www.afri.ie
author by Tpublication date Tue Apr 12, 2011 23:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The text of the Green Party press release on this abrupt U-Turn by the FF criminals is reproduced below so as to give more context to the above story.

Fianna Fáil caves in on GM
Issued: 08 February 2011
Statement by Trevor Sargent, spokesperson on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Irish Government performs u-turn following Green Party's exit from cabinet

The Green Party has said it is alarmed by Fianna Fáil’s u-turn on the issue of GM food today, following confirmation by Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith that Ireland is to vote in support of European Commission proposals to allow genetically modified maize and cotton onto the market

In Government, the Green Party ensured that Ireland abstained on this vote.

"All the indications are that Labour and Fine Gael would make the same decisions as Fianna Fáil on this issue and only the Green Party was willing to stand up to the powerful interests involved," Green TD for Dublin North Trevor Sargent said today.

The former Food Minister added: “This is a clear a U-turn by Fianna Fáil following the Green's departure from Government. It shows the Greens were always on the side of the consumer and producers and had been making a real difference in terms of protecting Ireland's reputation for high quality food. Here is another example of where the influence of big business on Fianna Fáil comes before what the public interest.

“This is a backward step for Irish agriculture, and will serve to undermine our reputation with European consumers. We need to ensure we produce what consumers in Europe want, and at present the majority of EU consumers do not want GM food. According to successive Eurobarometer surveys over 60% of European consumers want their food GM-free. The GM issue is about consumer choice and Fianna Fáil's U-turn damages the quality image of Irish food produce. It undermines the very strategy set out in Food Harvest 2020, which puts great importance on the marketing of Irish food as being "high-quality" and certifying its sustainability.

“Contrary to assertions made by Minister Smith that GM-free animal feed is difficult to source, it is freely available at a small premium. As Irish cattle eat grass most of the year this small premium would represent a tiny price differential for the customer (e.g. 2c on a Sunday roast). Persuing a GM-free produce strategy in Ireland would best meet the requirements of European consumers. The highest quality lines in European supermarkets insist on the use of GM-free feed, e.g Carrefour and Co-op Italia."

“We must have Greens in Government to ensure that Irish food can have access to the highest quality food international markets,” concluded Deputy Sargent.

Related Link: http://www.greenparty.ie/en/news/latest_news/fianna_fail_caves_in_on_gm
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