Growers' association wants Ireland declared GM-free


THE GOVERNMENT must immediately implement its pledge to declare Ireland a GM-free zone outlined in its programme for government, the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association has said.

It said the recent two-pronged decision by the European Commission granting states and regions more autonomy in banning but also in allowing GM cultivation, made this a matter of urgency.

It said the decision to grant legal certainty to member states allowing GM cultivation, may pave the way to allow more GM crop cultivation in Europe.

“Co-existence of GM crops and conventional and organic crops is not possible and the continued promotion of GM crops needs to be reversed,” said association chairwoman Dr Sinéad Neiland.

In early June, the Department of Agriculture informed the Environmental Protection Agency of an unauthorised release of GM maize at one of its experimental farms.

The maize variety had been certified as GM-free but when tested was found to contain unapproved GM. The department told the agency it had discontinued the testing and removed the plants from the earth which was done before they had produced pollen or seed. The plants were composited to ensure no further propagation.

Dr Neiland cited a number of other incidents across Europe including the introduction of 800 genetically-modified potato plants to a field in Norfolk and the discovery of a GM variety of maize banned in the EU which was found to have been sown accidentally across Germany.

Greenpeace said the seed had been planted on 3,000 hectares in seven states and it was not clear how the contamination occurred, but it could cost farmers millions of euro, as crops have to be destroyed.

“The Irish Government outlined in its programme for government that the island of Ireland should be declared a GM-free zone. This needs to be implemented immediately and then Ireland would be in an excellent position to supply Europe with GM-free food,” Dr Neiland said.