| 8.5°C Dublin

Internal flaws

• Recent events in banking and building sectors in Ireland show that these systems were incapable of dealing with their internal flaws. Hopefully, our little country will recover from the ravages caused by those flaws -- eventually.

Not so with the genetically modified (GM) potatoes Teagasc is planning to grow in Carlow. Once these GM potatoes grow in fields, their pollen and seed are spread as pollen and seed do -- uncontrollably. Genetic modification is done by genetic engineering, something that isn't possible outside a laboratory. Universally, science accepts that GM plants produce unpredictable effects.

So pollen and seed from GM potatoes will spread their engineered genes. Once spread, they cannot be recalled, ever, because every year they're busily producing the next generation. Spuds complicate the issue because their tubers can develop new plants, too, given the right conditions.

Teagasc says it will have a 40-metre exclusion zone in which other potato crops will not be grown. Teagasc says this segregation distance does away with what they call 'admixture', and what I call GM gene contamination.

Research in France in 1999 on bee pollen samples showed all bees in the study carried potato pollen and one bee's pollen load was predominantly potato flower. Will Teagasc have a big sign that says BEE EXCLUSION ZONE for those Carlow bees? Or has someone done a study on whether bees in Carlow can read?

It seems Teagasc needs to go back to the drawing board on its GM potato research plans. Irish people do not need people tricking around with the basics of life.

That wordy, witty and great Irishman, GB Shaw, said: "Good teachers are those who know how little they know. Bad teachers are those who think they know more than they don't know." Ironically, one translation of the word 'teagasc' is 'teacher'.

Stella Coffey
Cahir, Co Tipperary

Irish Independent