25th September, 2015
ICSA president Patrick Kent has said that Ireland must avoid being caught out of step with key EU competitors and markets who have decided to avail of the EU opt-out clause regarding the growing of GM crops. “The clean green image, encapsulated in the Origin Green strategy, will be undermined if we ever permit the growing of GM crops while competitors such as Northern Ireland and Scotland ban them. We also have to be very cognisant of the fact that key EU markets such as Germany, Italy and France are taking the view that growing GM crops is not in line with consumer sentiment and accordingly, are also taking a no GM planting approach.”
It will be extremely difficult to develop the clean, green, grass fed image while being out of step with a tide of EU countries that clearly do not see growing GM crops as being synonymous with natural farming systems. The risk here is that if we don’t take the same approach as Northern Ireland, Scotland, Italy, France and Germany that our Origin Green strategy will lose all credibility among EU consumers.”
The call comes due to the impending change in EU law on October 3rd 2015, whereby EU member states must write to the European Commission to opt out of automatic authorisations for the growing of GM crops. The opt-out covers the eight varieties of maize currently permitted or set to be permitted at EU level. Opting out means there would be a full ban on the cultivating of these GM crops.
“It is vitally important that Ireland retains its green clean status. We cannot risk being compared unfavourably with our European competitors in this matter, particularly as beef and lamb exports are proportionately much more important in economic terms to us whereas growing GM maize crops would be of very dubious benefit anyway. We have managed perfectly well without GM crops so far and any change in our GM free status would be highly risky.”