THE OUTGOING MINISTER for Agriculture has said that the sale of food products made from genetically modified ingredients will be tolerated in Ireland.
Brendan Smith has said today in a statement that Ireland had “altered its voting position” and will back proposals from the EU Commission “aimed at authorising the placing on the market of food, food ingredients and feed containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize and cotton”.
Smith also said that Ireland would now tolerate “the low-level presence of, as yet, unauthorised GM varieties in imports of animal food”.
The statement of the U-turn on the attitude towards GM food products came after a meeting of the EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health in Brussels today.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has also given the thumbs-up to authorising the GM varieties proposed by the committee today. The FSAI approval follows a similar move by the European Food Safety Authority. Outgoing Tanaiste Mary Coughlan supports the decision to allow certain GM products onto the market, said Smith. As she currently has responsibility for Health and Children, any issue relating to food comes under her remit.
Smith said that the introduction of the GM varieties was necessary to solve the high cost of producing animal feed for the Irish market. He said over 90 per cent of the protein feed for Irish livestock comes from soya and maize by-products imported from North and South America, which generally now contain GM varieties.
GM-Free Ireland, a group who claim that GM crops can not “co-exist” with conventional and organic agriculture and would “contaminate” the Irish ecosystem, had earlier today urged Smith and other European Agriculture ministers not to vote in favour of the EU proposals. They said the EC proposal was to “scrap the ‘zero tolerance’ food safety policy which protects consumers and livestock from contamination by unapproved GMOs”.