Sir, - It is with great concern that the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas notes the application by Monsanto plc to conduct field trials on sugar beet, genetically modified to withstand the herbicide "Roundup" in Counties Carlow, Cork and Kilkenny this year. If the experiments are "successful", sugar beet could be sprayed with a herbicide which will not damage it and consumers will be exposed to increased risks from exposure to this agent with soils, water, wildlife and humans contaminated with this chemical. Also of great concern is that nearly all genetically engineered plants contain genes for resistance to antibiotics, most notably kanamycin.

This raises concerns about the possible transference of antibiotic resistance to humans. We note also with concern that there is no provision for the adequate labelling of genetically engineered food.

Herbicide resistant crops sit squarely in the mould of industrial agriculture, which as we have seen with the examples of the BSE crisis, pesticide and antibiotic residues in food, among other issues lead us to the conclusion that industrial agricultural practices are not in the best interests of human health. In the interests of public health, the Green Party/ Comhaontas Glas demands that the health of the consumer be brought to the forefront and earnestly requests that the Food Advisory Board would include this worrying issue in its brief. - Yours, etc.,

Spokesperson on the Health,

The Green Party/

Comhaontas Glas, Salthill, Mountcharles, Co Donegal.