ICSA president Patrick Kent has criticised the Government’s decision not to avail of the opportunity to ban the sales of genetically modified (GM) crops for cultivation by the October 3rd deadline.  He is calling on Minister Kelly at  the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to explain his reasons for neglecting to ensure Ireland remains GM free. Mr. Kent has described the decision as “very troubling” given the importance of both the farming and food processing industries to the Irish economy. Mr. Kent had previously noted that he was concerned Ireland would become caught out of step with key EU competitors and markets who had already availed of the EU opt-out clause regarding the growing of these GM crops.

Now Mr. Kent is calling on Minister Kelly to explain why his department has failed to act in the best interests of Irish farmers, stating that, “A ban on growing GM crops would have preserved consumer confidence and allowed us to compete based on our natural environment, quality and strong branding. This opt-out clause would have enhanced the clean green image of Ireland with both domestic and international consumers.”

“Our clean green status has been seriously undermined, and for what?” asked Mr. Kent. He said Minister Kelly and his department  must reveal their logic behind this decision. “Why be out of step with countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Poland and France who have all chosen to adopt the GM ban? Why jeopardise our ability to market our meat and dairy products in the future?”

Nineteen of the twenty eight EU member states have applied to keep genetically modified crops out of all or part of their territories. These applications were made under new rules giving national governments stronger rights to ban biotech varieties. This ban includes the Monsanto developed MON 810, a crop that produces BT toxin poisonous to insects such as the European Corn Borer. MON 810 is the only GM crop currently commercially grown in the EU. However, the ban would also include pending GM applications of which there are eight.

Mr. Kent is also calling on Minister Coveney at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to explain his failure to protect farming interests. “When two thirds of Europe have gone down the GM free route, why has Ireland opted to go the other way when it is of no commercial advantage to farmers?” Mr. Kent demanded.

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