Sinn Féin - On Your Side

"We must hear the public's opinion and we must keep 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'.

Mary Lou McDonald said:

"Consumers in this country have the right to have their say on whether they or not their children want to eat food that has been tampered with. It is unethical for genes of animals to be placed in the genes of plants, we are told that this is for the benefit of countries which cannot produce enough food to feed their own people, and that it will reduce the amount of damage to crops, and reduce the amounts of pesticides used.

"Genes are the right of everyone, no one has the right to own or to patent genes, but this is exactly what is happening. It is incredible that these people who use the argument that GM will help to feed the world, are the very same people who placed a TERMINATOR GENE in their seeds so that farmers cannot use seeds that are harvested to plant next years crops.

"Very few countries do not produce enough food. Per capita food production has outstripped population growth by 15% since 1970. India has over 300 million undernourished people and yet can produce a grain surplus of 60 million tons. The same food surpluses exist throughout Asia so it is a lie to claim that GM is needed to boost production.

"We must also reject the argument that those who oppose GM are preventing the feeding of the starving millions. A study by Aaron de Grassi of Sussex University proved that GM crops address none of the issues of hunger and poverty. They are not cost effective. They are not sustainable. And while crop output may increase, once the overall costs of inputs are taken into account they are seen to be less economic than traditional methods.

"People who today are starving are starving because they cannot access food or cannot afford it. Food has more to do with land reform, food distribution and the ability to access cheap credit, and the assistance to source food locally. Farmers in poor and underdeveloped countries cannot afford to buy seed each year, but this is exactly what the terminator gene is intended to do.

"Further to this debate the GM industry hailed the introduction of 'Golden Rice' as the savour of malnourished children, by the introduction of beta-carotene that converts into Vitamin A. What use is Beta-carotene when the body requires sufficient body protein and fat to produce vitamin A.

"We will not allow ourselves be pushed down the road of accepting GM by either the EU or US. The US government is closely aligned to the Genetic Industry, the US minister of agriculture Ann Vanneman used to be head of Agracetus, a subsidiary of GM food corporation Monasanto, which is the largest of the GM companies.

"What is the record of our MEP‚s in voting on this issue, I publicly call on them to state their voting history on this issue.

"We are calling on all NGO‚s, together with interested parties and individuals to support us in this call for an immediate public consultation on the banning Genetically Modified Food or crops on this island. We must hear our public's opinion and we must keep Ireland GM Free." ENDS

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