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Ireland Becomes The Third Country In The World To Ban Genetically Modified Crops

** Editor's note:
It has come to our attention that the collapse of Ireland's coalition with the Green Party has given Fianna Fáil the freedom to ditch Ireland's anti-GM stance. Brendan Smith from the ruling Fianna Fáil party, confirmed in a statement on April 19th, 2011 that Ireland has changed its voting position and will now support a number of EU Commission proposals designed to allow the marketing of GM food for human consumption, animal feed and food ingredients. Thus, most of the information from the article below is now outdated.

Ireland has officially become the third country in the world, after Japan and Egypt, to ban the cultivation of all GM crops and introduce a voluntary GM-free label for food – including meat, poultry, eggs, fish, crustaceans, and dairy produce made without the use of GM animal feed.

According to the press release from GM-Free Ireland, an agreement signed between the government's coalition partners specifies that the Government will “Declare the Republic of Ireland a GM-Free Zone, free from the cultivation of all GM plants”. The official text also states “To optimise Ireland’s competitive advantage as a GM-Free country, we will introduce a voluntary GM-Free logo for use in all relevant product labelling and advertising, similar to a scheme recently introduced in Germany.”

According to Michael O’Callaghan of GM-free Ireland, the policy signals a new dawn for Irish farmers and food producers:

“The WTO’s economic globalisation agenda has forced most Irish farmers to enter an unwinnable race to the bottom for low quality GM-fed meat and dairy produce, in competition with countries like the USA, Argentina and Brazil which can easily out-compete us with their highly subsidised GM crop monocultures, cheap fossil fuel, extensive use of toxic agrochemicals that are not up to EU standards, and underpaid migrant farm labour."

“Meanwhile, hundreds of European food brands, retailers and Regions now offer GM-free beef, pork, lamb, poultry, eggs, fish and dairy produce as part of their Food Safety, Quality Agriculture, Biodiversity, Fair Trade, Sustainable Development and Climate Change strategies. Thousands of brands in the USA are doing likewise. Without a GM-free label to distinguish our produce, Irish food is being excluded from this global market.”

The International Market For GM-Free Animal Produce Is Growing Rapidly

Across Europe, hundreds of leading food brands Campina) and dozens of leading retailers (including premium meat, fish, eggs, poultry eggs and dairy feedstuffs. These are backed by GM-free labels Germany, with France to follow later this year. Sales of GM-free milk have skyrocketed since the label came into effect in Germany.

In the USA, to which Ireland exports vast quantities of dairy produce (including milk powder and casein for cheese production), leading food manufacturers, retailers, processors, distributors, farmers, seed breeders and consumers have set up joint venture called the Non-GMO Project, which already provides GM-free labels for over 1,000 food products by individual manufacturers in addition to thousands of GM-free private retail brands.

Ireland’s geographical isolation and offshore Atlantic western winds provide a natural barrier to contamination by wind-borne GM pollen drift from countries such as the UK and Spain which still allow commercial release and/or field trials of GM crops [6]. Together with this natural protection – and Ireland’s famous green image and unpolluted topsoil – the new GM-free policy will provide Irish farmers and food producers who avoid the use of GM feed with a truly unique selling point: the most credible safe GM food brand in Europe.”

A Label That Means What It Says

O’Callaghan said the Irish GM-free label for algae, meat, poultry, eggs, crustaceans, fish, and dairy produce should set a higher standard than the existing German and proposed French labels, which mislead consumers by allowing GM-free claims for animal produce from livestock whose diet has included large amounts of GM feedstuffs for varying periods before they are converted into food [14]: “Ireland’s GM-free label should mean what it says, i.e. no feeding of any GM-labelled feedstuffs during the entire life of the animal. Specifically, the label should guarantee that the animal has been fed either on plant materials for which no GMO varieties exist, or on fodder crops that contain no GMO ingredients above the generally accepted detection level of 0.1 per cent. To avoid misleading consumers, the EU should to adopt a credible GM-free labelling regulation of this kind for the whole single market, instead of allowing individual member state to set their own standards, which can be not only confusing, but also deceptive. The Irish Government is now in a position to lead on this.”

Most of Europe, Canada and the United States have been experimenting on their populations with genetically modified foods since the early 1990s.

Reference Sources
April 18, 2011


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