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McHugh - Cancun WTO Trade Talks will have massive impact on future of Irish farmers

27 August, 2003

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone representative Cllr Gerry McHugh has said that the Cancun WTO trade talks beginning in September will have important implications on the livelihoods of many Irish farmers.

Cllr McHugh said:

"In a few weeks in Cancun the global trade talks will get under way, this is where the livelihoods of many Irish farmers will be negotiated. Europe must not give in to American demands on the issue GM crops and foods or the issue of Export refunds.

"The US position on Export refunds is hypocritical. They give massive export refunds on grain, which flood the world market with cheap grain - often at well below the production cost - impacting on the viability of grain farming not just in developing countries but throughout Europe as well. At the same time US beef and dairy farmers continue to use growth promoters in their beef herd and there is the widespread use of BST in the dairy herd. None of these practises exist, or would we wish they did in Ireland or Europe.

"Last weeks Monsanto‚s president and chief executive Hugh Grant let the cat out of the bag about the reason they are vigorously perusing GM in every continent of the world. Speaking after the $600 million settlement of an Alabama lawsuit brought over highly damaging PCBs (poly chlorinated biphenyl) Grant said 'The strong cash generating capabilities of Monsanto's agricultural business allowed the company to contribute to the settlement'.

"Let know one be in any doubt this is the only reason that Monsanto is perusing GM food and using any argument to sell its product throughout the world. The American administration, which is a heavy supporter of GM, continues to press with litigation through the WTO against Europe on Genetically modified organisms.

"The British and Irish government must ensure that our farmers are protected from cuts in prices, and implement full decoupling as soon as possible. It is during negotiations such as CAP and WTO that we need the whole of Ireland represented. As long as we are partially governed by uninterested, non-elected and unaccountable British Ministers the case of Northern farmers will not be put." ENDS

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