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Irish Government failure to sign up to EU opt-out clause and ban GM crops a missed opportunity

Press Release

Tuesday 13 Oct 2015

Dublin Independent MEP, Nessa Childers says she is disappointed the Irish Government has decided not to seek a national opt-out of automatic authorisations for the growing of GM crops.  

“The Government allowed the deadline on the 3rd October to pass without any public consultation. Subsequently Minister Alan Kelly in a written reply to a parliamentary question, said we do not need an opt-out because we do not grow GM crops in the Republic of Ireland.

“This is an extraordinary fudge and a missed opportunity. Being able to label Ireland as GMO crop free would add significantly to our status as a quality food producer.  Survey after survey shows that EU consumers prefer non GM food.

“However the livestock sector in Ireland is dependent on GMO animal feed and this may explain the reluctance to draw attention to our GMO status and open public debate in Ireland about this issue.

Minster Kelly claims that despite missing the EU deadline Ireland can introduce legislation to ban the growing of GM crops. I now call on him and his government to open public consultation on this issue, and propose that we join Northern Ireland and make the island of Ireland GM free.

Background Information (Ref: EurActiv and AFP 2 October 2015)

The European Commission proposed allowing national cultivation bans for GMOs in July 2010, in a bid to break a deadlock in EU GM crop approvals which has seen few varieties approved for cultivation in more than 12 years. In the EU only one GM crop is approved for commercial cultivation: insect resistant maize, MON 810. Of the total area of GM maize grown in the EU in 2012 (129,000 hectares) one country, Spain, contributed more than 90%. The proposal, which was backed by the EU’s 28 environment ministers in June 2014, gives back “full responsibility” to member states over the cultivation of GMOs on their territory. For the first time, it formally allows EU countries to opt-out from the Europe-wide approval system.

Included on the total opt-out list are Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland.