GM-FREE IRELAND



PEOPLE POWER & GENETICALLY MODIFIED POLITICS

This page features information about the political aspect of GM food and farming at the local, national, European and global levels, including a list of candidates to vote for in Ireland's 2007 General Election (coming soon), details of the EU Biotech Resolution, political soundbites, Ireland's policy on so-called "co-existence", Fianna Fáil's broken promise on GMOs, and the WTO GMO trade dispute with the EU.



Use your vote in the 2007 General Election to keep Ireland GM-free:

Keeping Ireland GMO-free is an issue that will affect all candidates running in the 2007 General Election. The GM-free Ireland Network now has the largest number and the broadest diversity of stakeholder groups of any NGO on this island. Our 30 organisational members (and the populations of the 9 Irish counties and 9 city or town councils which oppose the cultivation of GM crops) now represent over 1 million citizens.

In December 2006, GM-free Ireland wrote to all the TDs running in the 2007 General Election, requesting them to confirm in writing by 31 January 2007 if they will take action to introduce legislation to prohibit the release of GM seeds and crops, and support the call to declare Ireland a GMO-free zone. You can download the letter as 128kb pdf file. To help them make up their own mind about the issue, each letter included the DVD The Future of Food and the book Patenting Life? Stop! by Fr. Seán McDonagh.

Most TDs did not even bother to respond. We are now chasing them up, and compiling their responses as we receive them.

For a list of all the election candidates (including current TDs) with their party's position and their own position on the issue, see our voter's guide.



Lobby your MEP to reject EU Biotech resolution 2006/2059(INI):

On 6 November 2006, the European Parliament received a controversial draft resolution by Finnish MEP Kyosti Virrankoski entitled "Agriculture and Biotechnology: Prospects and Challenges for Agriculture in Europe", published in advance of the mid-term review of the EU Biotech Strategy scheduled for April 2007. The proposed resolution is replete with biotech industry bias and misinformation. It seeks to downgrade the status of the Precautionary Principle in EU law, to discredit the scientific evidence that GM crops do not perform as expected, to bolster the myth that GM crops will end world hunger, and to support giant agri-biotech corporations which want to seize control of European agricultural seeds through GMO crop patents. Irish MEPs Liam Aylward, Marian Harkin and Kathy Sinnott strongly criticised the text, amidst EU-wide calls for the Resolution to be withdrawn.

Since then, MEPs from political parties across the EU submitted 190 amendments to the draft text. On 24 January 2007, the amended text was voted on by MEP members of the EU Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. The two Irish MEPs on this committee are Liam Aylward (Fianna Fáil) who wants Ireland to conserve its current GMO-free status, and Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael) who seems determined to destroy it. 15 MEPs voted against the report, 6 abstained, and 22 voted in favour.

All MEPs will vote on the final text at a Plenary session of the European Parliament on 14 March 2007. Click here for related documents and information.

What you can do:

Please contact your local MEP and request his or her vote to withdraw the resolution at the European Parliament plenary vote on 14 March 2007. You can quickly find your MEP's contact details at www.europarl.ie/meps/index.html.



Political soundbites:

Select quotations from elected representatives of every political party in Ireland who support the call to declare the whole island of Ireland a GMO-free zone, and oppose our Government's undemocratic collusion with the WTO and the EC to legalise GMO seeds and crops against the wishes of the majority of European Governments, food brands, retailers and consumers. More...

Example: "An unelected body, the European Commission, has made an incredibly important decision that is unacceptable and illegal. We are sullying Ireland's reputation as a green environment and food producing country. Shame on the politicians and officials who supported it and shame on us for allowing it to happen. I call on Ireland to prohibit these products!" – Michael Mulcahy TD (Fianna Fáil)



Ireland's policy on "co-existence" of GM crops with conventional and organic farming:

A clearinghouse of information on stakeholder consultations (launched in the summer of 2004) by the interdepartmental / interagency Working Group set up by the Irish Government Department of Agriculture and Food, for a National Strategy and best practices regarding the so-called "co-existence" of GM crops with conventional and organic farming.

Based on a non-binding and legally flawed EC Recommendation, this consultation process excluded 83% of the stakeholder who will be materially affected by the policy, in violation of the Aarhus Convention on public participation in environmental decision-making, which has been signed by both the EU as a whole and Ireland in particular. The draft strategy, published in December 2005, is widely seen as a recipe for irreversible contamination of the country with GM crops and GM superweeds that will destroy Ireland's famous image as the "clean green food island". More...



Fianna Fail's broken promise never to allow GMO food and crops in Ireland:

In 1997, Fianna Fáil Agriculture spokesperson (and subsequent Minister of Agriculture and Food) Joe Walsh T.D., and spokesman for the Environment Noel Dempsey (now Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources) set out their party's clear position against the development and sale of GM food, crops and livestock in a pre-election campaign pledge to keep Ireland GM-free. But after Bertie Ahern's St. Patrick's Day 1988 meeting with US National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Fianna Fáil issued a completely opposite communication declaring (falsely) that "the area of Irish economic interest where biotechnology, particularly modern biotechnology / genetic modification, has greatest potential is in agriculture". More...



The WTO Trade Dispute on GMOs against the EU

In 2003, the USA, Canada and Argentina filed a legal dispute at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), accusing the EU of violating the Free Trade Agremeement by restricting genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Three years later, in February 2006, the WTO reached its final ruling - a 1,000-page report which revealed that despite widespread media misinformation, the plaintiffs failed to win most of their arguments. The ruling also makes it clear that the WTO is not and should not be the appropriate body to deal with conflicts between trade rules and environmental protection since it ignores the internationally recognised Precautionary Principle and considers only trade principles. More...



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