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9-Misc: Call for Ireland to be GM free

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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Call for Ireland to be GM free
SOURCE: Press Association, Ireland
DATE:   June 9, 2003

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Call for Ireland to be GM free

The island of Ireland should be a genetically modified free zone, it was
claimed tonight.

Northern Ireland Green Party leader John Barry called on the British
government to guarantee GM crops would not be grown north of the border
as a debate was staged at Belfast's King's Hall.

The debate was taking place as part of a UK-wide government consultation
on the issue of GM-crops.

But as the debate got under way, Mr Barry said there was a feeling that
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government had already made its mind
up on the issue.

"The perception out there is that the GM debate is already a done deal,"
he said.

"People are being asked to consider endorsing something which has not
been properly tested and which is really being promoted for commercial

"With the United States already growing large quantities of crops with a
GM orientation, there is suspicion out there that it is in the interests
of the government for the crops to be grown here.

"We don't buy the argument that they are doing this to feed the Third
World. The real motivating factor is money.

"Our aim is to ensure that the island of Ireland is declared a GM-free
zone and we would also like to see the farming lobby joining with us in
opposing these crops."

Mr Barry released a statement which Northern Ireland's Greens have signed
up to opposing GM crops.

The signatories included Friends of the Earth, GeneWatch UK, the Farmers
Union of Wales, Christian Aid, Action Aid, UNISON, Greenpeace, the
Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Services, Five Year
Freeze, the Henry Doubleday Research Association, the National Federation
of Women's Institutes and the Soil Association.

The statement expressed concerns that biotechnology firms would gain the
most from GM crops being grown in the UK, increasingly gain control over
the type of seeds used for food production in developed and developing

The signatories also feared GM crops could cross-pollinate with other
plants, causing long term damage to wildlife.

They also challenged claims that GM crops would not solve world hunger

"The biotechnology industry claims that GM technology can help end world
hunger by producing more and better food," he said.

"But more than enough food is already produced to feed the world's
population and yet 800 million people go hungry.

"The real causes of world hunger are economic and political. Aid agencies
believe the balance of benefits and costs is very unlikely to favour poor
communities in developing countries."

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Northern Ireland has
called for a "precautionary" approach to the crops, saying they raised
more questions than they answered.

An RSPB spokesman said: "Insufficient laboratory tests have been done on
the effect of GM crops before going to field scale trials.

"The precautionary principle means that, if you are unsure of what the
result will be - especially if it is going to be serious - it would be
wiser not to do it until more evidence is available."


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

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