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Sinn Féin call for urgent debate on keeping Ireland 'GM free'

29 July, 2003

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin Sinn Féin Kerry North TD Martin Ferris, Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA Gerry McHugh and Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald called for an urgent debate on GM food and crops and issued a call to keep Ireland 'GM free'.

Northern Agriculture Spokesperson Gerry McHugh added:

"Once again we see the European Legislators are coming at this with a 'one policy fits all' approach.

"There has only been a superficial debate in the north yet it appears that Tony Blair already has his mind made up on GM. In his last cabinet re-shuffle he exiled Michael Meacher, a vocal critic of GM, to the back benches. An 11 July report said there was little economic benefit from GM then last week another report by scientists stating that the scientific advice was that there are apparently few risks associated with eating GM food.

"It is clear that the British government is going to adopt GM food and crops, they do not support the European model of farming, while Tony Blair is only interested in appeasing big business interests.

"The risk of Hybrid Cross contamination to indigenous varieties of crops is extremely high. This will result in the loss of genetic diversity, and will also have serious, possibly fatal consequences for the organic farming sector.

"Sinn Féin will be arguing with the North‚s Minister of agriculture, that Genetically Modified Food and Crops must not be planted or allowed for sale in the North. When devolved government returns to the North, we will peruse this with a local Minister, and through as many of the relevant committees as possible.

"Sinn Féin will also be seeking a meeting with the Minister of agriculture to express our concerns and the need for a simultaneous public consultation with the South. I know my colleague the former health Minister Bairbre de Brún shares all of my concerns on this issue, because of the huge risks associated with human health.

"Farmers have a lot to loose if Genetically Modified Food is grown in Ireland, they have no to control over the Hybrid nature of these plants. There is so little knowledge about the possible impact from cross contamination and the entry of new genes into the Irish. Crop gene pool Local farmers will also be at the mercy of consumers if this technology goes wrong, they will be the ones who will suffer huge losses not the large corporations like Monsanto.

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