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Ard Fheis 2004 - George - All of Ireland must remain GM free

28 February, 2004

Sinn Féin representative for North Down Maria George speaking in support of motion 107 said 'In councils across the island we have led the way in calling for a GM free island.'

Sinn Féin has been leading the way on trying to open up the debate on Genetically Modified crops and foods in Ireland.

In councils across the island we have led the way in calling for a GM free island.

The environmental, economic, and nutritional or consumer impact of GM is unknown. The potential to benefit from clean green image is unknown but the real beneficiaries from GM will be the companies who profit from owning the patent on a sizeable proportion of the world's food.

As an island we are GM free.

It is our unique advantage, as an island, that no other European country can match, and we are allowing this advantage to be thrown away.

If GM food and crops come into the into Ireland -- in the North or South, then we have thrown away the image of Irish agriculture as clean, green, and non GM.

And what is Dublin Minister Joe Walsh's attitude to GM crops? Why isn't the minister defending the interests of Irish farmers, especially against the British minister, who cares little for Irish agriculture?

Tony Blair already has his mind made up on GM. Yet the British governments' own GM crop trials throw serious doubt on any decision to introduce commercial GM crops into Ireland.

There are just too many doubts and too many unanswered questions.

The British governments own crop trials show that GM crops have an adverse impact on levels of bio-diversity and that contamination cannot be controlled with GM oilseed rape cross-pollinating with non-GM rape at a distance of over 16 miles.

Recent history teaches us that scientists can say that they believe something is safe, but cannot guarantee that it is safe. BSE is the best example of how we should not take anything for granted. We cannot afford to take this risk with our health or the credibility of our food industry.

Consumers in this country have the right to have their say on whether they or their children want to eat food. They also have the right to know all of the facts before any decision is made to allow the sale of GM food in this country.

It is vital that a full public debate takes place and that all of the issues surrounding GM are aired. Irish farmers and consumers are being denied the opportunity to voice their opinion.

Sinn Féin believe that across the island we need one policy -- a GM free Ireland - because cross contamination could contaminate the whole island.

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