GM-FREE IRELAND


NEWS RELEASE

LEADING EXPERTS TO WARN IRELAND
ON RISKS OF GM FOOD AND FARMING

Dublin, 29 June 2004 Global Vision Consulting Ltd.
www.global-vision.com


John Hume to chair National Future of Food Forum on Sunday 4 July
Leading geneticist warns GM food and crops not safe
US author reports big biotech lies
Ireland can declare itself GM-free like Wales & Scottish Highlands


Internationally renowned geneticist & biophysics professor Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and author Jeffrey M. Smith will warn the government, farmers and consumers about the risks of genetically engineered (GM) food and farming at the National Future of Food Forum on Sunday 4th July at the Brooklodge Hotel at Macreddin, Co. Wicklow. Both speakers support the campaign for Ireland to conserve its GM-free status like Wales and the Highlands of Scotland.

Chaired by Nobel Peace Laureate and former MEP Mr John Hume, the Forum is part of the Day of Food Excellence hosted by Euro-Toques Ireland, which represents over 200 of this country's leading chefs. Announcing the theme of the event yesterday, Euro-toques stated that "The way forward for agriculture and food production is something that urgently needs to be addressed. Consumers have lost trust in the food industry and concern is growing. What is the next step in terms of food supply? Do we want to continue down the road of increased industrialisation, biotechnology, and globalisation, or do we want to encourage sustainability, organic food and local production?"

GM-free Ireland Network co-ordinator Michael O'Callaghan said "This National Food Forum presents a truly historic opportunity for farmers, food producers and related government policy makers to consider the choices for the future of Irish farming. We should follow the lead of Wales and the Highlands of Scotland where farmers, environmentalists and politicians are working together to forge a win-win strategy for the revitalisation of local communities based on a truly sustainable agriculture, promoting local, organic, artisanal foods that also provide competitive advantage in the global marketplace. Keeping Ireland GM-free goes with our green image and is in the best interests of farmers, consumers and the environment. It also makes very good economic sense."

Dr. Ho is one of a rare breed an independent geneticist with no ties to the biotech industry. She is the Director of the Institute of Science in Society (www.i-sis.org.uk), co-founder of the International Science Panel on GM (www.indsp.org), a member of the Roster of Experts for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Scientific Advisor to the Third World Network, visiting Professor of Biophysics at the University of Catania (Sicily), Senior Research Fellow at the Open University, and co-author of "The Case for a GM-free Sustainable World", in which she writes:

"Our extensive review of the evidence has convinced us that GM crops are neither needed nor wanted, that they have failed to deliver their promises, and instead are posing escalating problems on the farm. There is no realistic possibility for GM and non-GM agriculture to co-exist, as evident from the level of transgenic contamination that has already occurred. More importantly, GM crops are unacceptable because they are by no means safe. They have been introduced without the necessary safeguards and safety assessments through a deeply-flawed regulatory system based on a principle of 'substantial equivalence' that is aimed at expediting product approval rather than serious safety assessment."

Jeffrey M. Smith is the Director of the US-based Institute for Responsible Technology and author of "Seeds of Deception: exposing corporate and government lies about the safety of genetically engineered food". In his foreword to the book, former UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher MP writes:

"This is a brilliant book which combines shrewd dissection of the true nature of GM technology, a devastating critique of the health and environmental hazards of GM crops, and scarifying examples of the manipulation of both science and the media by the biotech industry. It is a call to arms, not only to prevent the contamination of the nation's food supply, but even more to tackle the poisoning of the nation's decision-making system by the undercover wielding of economic and financial muscle and PR manipulativeness of Big Biotech."

Pointing out that the government's current hardline pro-GM policy does not make sense, Michael O'Callaghan said that leading farming organisations, restaurants, chefs, food producers and consumers around the country are getting involved in the campaign to keep Ireland GM-free. Two weeks ago, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) called for the government to support an all-Ireland GM-free policy as part of an integral strategy to leverage Ireland's green image and boost our share of farm exports, and to actively pursue such a policy with its counterparts in Northern Ireland.

ICSA Rural Development Chairman John Heney said "our island status provides an unique opportunity for a credible GM-free policy for high value beef and lamb export markets." The move to prevent the commercial release of GM crops in Ireland is also supported by Irish Farmers Association Deputy President Ruaidhri Deasy who said "Keep GM products out of Ireland; we don't need them, we certainly can't pay for them, and our customers don't want them."

At the recent "Forging a GM Policy for Ireland" workshop, Evan Doyle, a co-owner of Brooklodge and spokesperson for Euro-Toques Ireland, said:

"Throughout the world Ireland is still viewed as clean and green, and people visit Ireland and buy Irish products with this in mind. Now is the time to stand up and demand that Ireland be GM-free. Once the first crops are sown, there is no turning back the clock and it will be too late to save our natural food industry. GM agriculture has been heralded as a breakthrough for the world. Its advocates claim it yields higher crops, uses fewer herbicides and pesticides, and can provide a solution to world hunger. However, in reality GM crops pose a significant threat to the future of our food chain. No one knows the long-term effects of GM crops on either human or animal health or on the environment. Cross-pollination with non GM crops is inevitable. Once released, genetic pollution will contaminate all our food - even organic. I would ask our Government to declare Ireland a GM free-zone; prohibit the use of GM ingredients in animal feed; begin negotiations with the UK government to achieve an all island GM-free zone; and invest more money into the organic farming industry."

The National Future of Food Forum will also include presentations by Alan Dukes, the former Minister for Agriculture and chairman of the Agri-Vision 2015 committee; Robert Cook from the International Society for Ecology and Culture, which promotes economic localisation and sustainable agriculture; and Michelin star chef, Shaun Hill, owner of The Merchant House in England, which is ranked number 21 in the world's best restaurants by The Restaurant magazine. The Euro-toques National Food Forum and Fair is a celebration of the wonderful variety of quality food produce available to us in Ireland. The forum will be followed by an organic and wild food barbeque lunch cooked by Brooklodge Head Chef Frederick Souty. Members of the public are invited to enjoy a food fair featuring up to 50 Irish small food producers, with plenty of food available to enjoy on the day.

ENDS

For bookings, interviews and press pack, please call Ruth Hegarty or Brid Banville on (01) 677 9995.

For information on the GM-free Ireland campaign, please call Michael O'Callaghan on (0404) 43 885, mobile 087 799 4761.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Dr. Mae Wan Ho will be available for interviews on Sunday 4 July.

Jeffrey M. Smith will be available for interviews from Friday 2 July through Monday 5 July.


The International Science Panel on GM consist of dozens of prominent scientists from seven countries, spanning the disciplines of agroecology, agronomy, biomathematics, botany, chemical medicine, ecology, histopathology, microbial ecology, molecular genetics, nutritional biochemistry, physiology, toxicology and virology. Web site: www.indsp.org.

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho's paper "The Case of a GM-free Sustainable World" (408kb PDF file) can be downloaded from: www.gmfreeireland.org/resources/documents/science/A GM-Free Sustainable World.pdf.

Fore more on Jeffrey M. Smith's book "Seeds of Deception" visit: www.seedsofdeception.com.

Institute of Science in Society: www.i-sis.org.uk.

Proceedings of the Forging a GM Policy for Ireland workshop: www.gmfreeireland.org/events/workshop1/index.php.

International Society for Ecology and Culture: www.isec.org.uk

Euro-Toques Ireland: www.eurotoquesirl.org. Euro-Toques was established in 1987 in Brussels as a guardian of European culinary heritage and as a lobby group addressing the concerns of Europe's top chefs about food quality and the future of food. The organisation has 200 members in Ireland including Neven Maguire, Kevin Thornton, Derry Clarke of L'Ecrivain and Guillaume LeBrun of Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.

For background on the GM-free Ireland campaign, visit www.gmfreeireland.org.

ENDS

Attribution: Michael O'Callaghan

Co-ordinator, GM-free Ireland Network www.gmfreeireland.org
Chairman, Global Vision Consulting Ltd www.global-vision.com

Tel: (0404) 43 885
Mobile: 087 799 4761


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