Funeral protest against GM trial

Wed, Sep 12, 2012, 01:00

A mock funeral procession to mark “the death of Ireland’s good food sector” was held in Dublin today by people opposed to the Teagasc field study on genetically-modified (GM) potatoes.

Up to 100 people took part in the march from St Stephen’s Green to the Department of Agriculture to highlight their opposition to the trial in Oak Park, Co Carlow. It is studying the environmental impact of the potatoes which have been genetically-modified to have improved resistance to late potato blight. The protest included organic farmers, environmentalists and urban gardeners.

“Dig up the spuds,” the crowd shouted outside the Department of Agriculture. They carried placards saying “Hey, Teagasc, leave our spuds alone” and “Nobody wants GM potatoes”.

They carried a black coffin which protest organiser Stella Coffey said was a symbol of the death of the Ireland’s good food sector.

Last month, she sought but was refused a High Court order allowing her to legally challenge the Teagasc trial without facing large costs if she lost the case. Her application was followed by another from a group of environmentalists and organic producers but that was also refused.

Ms Coffey said the protestors were demanding that the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney order Teagasc to dig up the GM potatoes and put them in the glasshouse until all legal challenges to the EPA decision had expired. The three-month judicial review period ends late next month.

Ms Coffey said nobody but a multi-millionaire could afford to take a legal challenge against the EPA decision to give its consent to the GM study.

Teagasc has defended its study, saying it was neither for nor against GM technology. It said it was doing its job in engaging in diverse research of the potential options available to farmers.

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