Sir, - Last Friday's article by Kevin O'Sullivan is factually incorrect and paints a very misleading picture of the debate about releasing genetically engineered plants for profit. As many of your readers will know, I am an 84year-old environmentalist and I have spent most of my life arguing for wise use of the land for safe and sustainable production of food. On June 22nd I sent your newspaper (and others) a statement in connection with the destruction of the Monsanto genetically altered sugar-beet trial plots near Arthurstown, Co Wexford. This was nothing to do with the Gaelic Earth Liberation group as your article suggests and nothing whatever to do with some scaremongering vision of hippie eco-warriors. All the people involved were sensible responsible adults - some local and some from Dublin and surrounding towns. Most local people seem to be glad to see this experiment come to an end.
In my statement I said that as a grandfather several times over I feel it is essential that future generations should be protected from the potential dangers of these outdoor trials. I can see no humane, practical or moral justification for releasing these altered life forms other than the commercial gain of Monsanto. If the Government is not prepared to keep to its preelection promises to halt these tests and the Environmental Protection Agency is not prepared to act, then people have no choice. No one breaks the law without very careful thought. I do not believe there was any alternative in this case.
We all know that things often go badly wrong when we tamper with nature and we all have a duty to act with civic responsibility according to our own conscience. For many years I have grown most of my food myself and never had any call to use weedkillers or other poisons. It is time people came to their senses and put a stop to practices carried out in the name of greed. Ireland does not need any more sugar beet and Irish farmers would be wise not to put the clean reputation of Irish agricultural produce at risk in Europe where consumers are extremely sensitive to genetically mutilated foods.
I would be grateful if you put the record straight. - Yours, etc.,