ICSA URGES COVENEY TO KEEP GM OPTIONS OPEN BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

1st October, 2015

ICSA president Patrick Kent has made a final appeal to the Minister for Agriculture to avail of the opt-out clause on growing GM maize which expires on October 3rd.  Under the opt-out clause, EU member states can opt out of EU Commission provisions which permit the growing of GM crops.   This can be done by reference to consumer attitudes which are hostile to GM methods across the EU.  In the event that Ireland fails to avail of this opt-out, future cultivation of GM crops could only be banned on the basis of scientific certainty which would, in practice, be very difficult to sustain given that many scientists are strongly pro-GM.

 

“The problem is that scientists are not the decision makers when it comes to consumer behaviour.  There is a grave risk that Ireland’s clean, green image is going to be irreversibly compromised if the Minister does not wake up to the dangers of sitting on the fence.  We cannot ignore the fact that key competitors in the meat export sector such as Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have already moved to retain their GM free status.   Moreover, key markets for our beef, dairy and lamb exports such as France, Italy and Germany have also opted out of GM cultivation.  Instead of gaining some illusory competitive advantage with a small minority who might grow GM, we risk undermining the clear strategy underpinning all our main exports of meat and dairy worth billions to the economy.”

 

“How can we seriously defend our Origin Green image when competitors will happily use our GM status as a stick to beat us with?  What will we tell German consumers who are used to Friesland-Campina charging a premium for GM free dairy products that Kerrygold is now made in a country where GM cultivation is possible? 

The Government is sleep-walking into a marketing disaster and we are now calling on Minister Coveney to pull back from the brink before it is too late.”  

ICSA president Patrick Kent has called for an immediate announcement on the abolition of pre-movement brucellosis testing in light of the declaration of Northern Ireland as officially brucellosis free. 

“The 60 day pre-movement test is now an unnecessary cost on farmers.  Worse, it restricts competition due to farmers being reluctant to bring heifers or cows to a mart.  Instead they go direct to a factory to avoid the hassle and cost but this lack of choice puts them in a weaker position when negotiating with factories.”

“We have previously received a commitment from the Department that pre-movement testing would be abolished as soon as the Northern Ireland position was clarified; it’s now urgent that this is implemented without delay.”