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McHugh - Concern at GM moves by Agriculture Department in Six Counties

13 August, 2003

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone representative Cllr Gerry McHugh has expressed concern at the involvement of the Department of Agriculture and Regional Development in considering a new GM crop - maize seed variety Chardon LL, for approval to the List of Plant Varieties prior to completion of a consultation process on GM crops and food.

Cllr McHugh said:

"It is outrageous that DARD are involved in proposals to add a new GM maize seed, Chardon LL, to the Plant Varieties List ahead of a consultation on GM crops and foods.

"At present there are no GM crops in the north of Ireland and Sinn Féin believe that we need to initiate an Ireland wide consultation before we go down the route of introducing GM crops or food into Ireland. Sinn Féin believe that the marketing potential of a GM free Ireland has not been investigated.

"There is only a voluntary agreement with the GM industry not to commercialise GM varieties until farm scale studies have been evaluated but this is only a voluntary agreement and there are still question marks over the use of farm scale tests and the danger of releasing new genetic mutations into the natural gene pool.

"I am also concerned that there is some confusion about which department assumes responsibility for GM foods. Although Ian Pearson has confirmed that the Department of Environment has primary responsibility for this issue DARD also has an obvious responsibility." ENDS

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