Farm Ireland

Saturday 20 January 2018

GMO voting stance slammed by MEPs

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Irish MEPs launched a scathing attack on Ireland's 'hear no evil, see no evil' approach to genetically modified organisms (GMO) at the European Parliament last week.

The Irish policy of abstaining from important votes on GMO approvals came in for sharp criticism from MEPs, who said they were in an impossible situation and without any guidance.

MEPs Mairead McGuinness, Marian Harkin, Liam Aylward, Nessa Childers, Alan Kelly and Sean Kelly made the remarks to a group of Macra na Feirme members on a study tour of the European Commission and Parliament, hosted by the European Commission.

Liam Aylward, Marian Harkin and Nessa Childers insisted that GM was a major issue that would have to be confronted and could not be put on the long finger indefinitely.

"We have no direction every time there is a vote, we have no guidelines," said Liam Aylward.

"We've all heard about boatloads of feed being refused at the ports -- the animal feed industry cannot survive unless something is done," he insisted.

Mairead McGuinness said that while growing GM crops in Ireland was not yet an issue, the technology would have to be debated.

"Without technology, we would still be in the dark," she said.

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"GM is a problem for Ireland because we would rather not talk about it but we need a more open debate on it," she insisted. "We need scientists like Teagasc to be more vocal," she added.

Marian Harkin described the asynchronous approval of GM crop varieties as "madness".

"The effect it has on feed prices is just crazy," she said.

"GMO approval is a major issue that keeps rearing its head yet the Irish Government abstains on it year in, year out," she said.

The MEP's frustration coincided with the announcement that the European Commission is proposing to give member states the freedom to allow, restrict or ban the cultivation of GMOs on part or all of their territory.

Under the proposals, the EU's strict authorisation system will remain in place but decisions on cultivation of GM crops will be at the discretion of individual countries.

Irish Independent