GM-FREE IRELAND


NEWS RELEASE

EC LEGALISES 17 VARIETIES OF GM MAIZE
BUT LEAKED MEMO ALLOWS IRELAND TO BAN THEM

Dublin, 8 September 2004 • Global Vision Consulting Ltd.
www.global-vision.com


Leaked Byrne memo recognises Ireland's right to object to marketing of GM varieties
GM-free Ireland calls for Government to use EU law to ban Monsanto's GM maize here
EC decision on contamination of agricultural seeds postponed
EC to consider scientific evidence of GM risks in October



The European Commission decided today to allow farmers to commercially grow up to 17 different types of Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) maize seeds in fields across Europe. However it postponed a separate proposal that would have allowed Europeís agricultural seeds to be contaminated by GM varieties without being adequately labelled.

But according to a leaked communication from EU Healh and Consumer Affairs Commissioner David Byrne which has been obtained by GM-free Ireland, "in accordance with the seeds Directive, any Member State may object to the marketing on their territory of any such GM variety if they consider there is a risk for human health, the environment or agronomic reasons."

There is substantial scientific evidence of the health, environmental and economic risks of GM food and crops, including GM-related death and disease in laboratory and farm animals, and humans, published by the Independent Science Panel on GM and other groups around the world.

But until now, this scientific evidence has been widely covered up and denied by the World Trade Organisation, the US Food and Drug Administration, the EU Joint Research Centre, the UK Royal Society, Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, and by David Byrne who continues to deny the existence of any scientific evidence of health and environmental risks of GM food and farming.

According to Greenpeace, Ireland's new Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Barry McSweeney, tried to suppress the publication of an EU Report on co-existence of GM and conventional crops whilst he was the Director of the EU Joint Research Centre. The report found that GM varieties will inevitably contaminate conventional and organic crops and cause higher production costs (up to 40% for oilseed rape) for EU farmers.

When Austria tried to ban one of Monsanto's GM maize varieties, their move was rejected by the European Food Safety Authority "for lack of scientific evidence", although it is now being re-considered. Italy imposed national measures against 4 GMOs (including some of Monsanto's GM maize varieties legalised today) under the Novel Foods Regulation, but an EU Scientific Committee rejected the scientific justification for this as "irrelevant".

But things are changing. The Independent Science Panel is holding a Special European Parliament Briefing on GM risks on 20 October this year. And last week the WTO ruled in favour of the EU in the GM trade dispute filed by the USA, by agreeing to set up a scientific panel to review the mounting evidence of GM risks.

GM-free Ireland co-ordinator Michael OíCallaghan said "we call on the Government to (1) use EU law to ban the release of Monsanto's GM maize varieties in Ireland, (2) actively lobby the Commission to set the seeds labelling contamination threshold at the reliable detection level of 0.1% before this decision comes up for a vote, and (3) provide funding for expert policy briefings on the health and environmental risks of GM food and farming by leading independent scientists with no ties to the biotech industry."

The Irish Government has used its EU Presidency to promote the legalisation of GM food, seeds, and crops throughout Europe, despite a motion by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health opposing any release of GM seeds and crops in Ireland. The Government has already granted 82 GMO patents and authorised the sale and GM animal feed and food here.

The GM-free Ireland Network – whose members include An Taisce, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association and the Irish Doctors Environmental Association – opposes the release of GM seeds and crops because the resulting contamination of conventional and organic crops and livestock will destroy Ireland's green image, reduce the value of our food exports, threaten wildlife and human health, and rob consumers of their right to choose safe GM-free food. Farmers would lose the right to save and plant their own seeds - and face additional burdens of bureaucracy, labelling, traceability, liability, and contamination lawsuits with no insurance available to cover the risks.

ENDS

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

NOTES TO EDITORS

Leaked Communication from David Byrne recognising Member States' right to refuse GM seeds and crops: www.gmfreeireland.org/resources/documents/EU/ByrneLeak.pdf.

The Case for a GM-free Sustainable World: a report from the Independent Science Panel on GM www.gm-freeireland.org/resources/documents/science/A GM-Free Sustainable World.pdf

GM Foods Are Inherently Unsafe:
www.gmfreeireland.org/resources/documents/science/smith/GM_Unsafe.pdf.

Eating GM Food is Gambling With Your Health:
www.gmfreeireland.org/resources/documents/science/smith/GM_Gambling.pdf.

Seeds of Deception:
exposing exposing corporate and government lies about the safety of genetically engineered food:
www.seedsofdeception.com.

The GM-free Ireland Network is an association of farming organisations, food producers and distributors, restaurants, chefs, NGOs, journalists and ordinary people collaborating to keep the whole island of Ireland GM-free - for the benefit of farmers, consumers and future generations. Members include An Taisce, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association, the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Irish Farmers Markets, the Irish Association of Health Stores, Friends of the Earth, Irish Seed Savers Association, the Irish Doctors Environmental Association, Euro-Toques Ireland / the European Commission of Chefs, Slow Food Ireland, Food and Wine magazine, the Food Writers Guild, Sustainable Ireland, and many farmers and food producers.

Last available proposal of the Commission:
www.saveourseeds.org/downloads/com_draft_seeds_04_2004.pdf.

Open letter of 60 farmers organisations letter to Fischler & Prodi:
www.saveourseeds.org/downloads/letter_farmers_16.07.pdf.

Open Letter of EFFAT, European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions:
www.saveourseeds.org/downloads/EFFAT_IUF_07_04.pdf.

Ten Arguments for clean Seeds:
www.saveourseeds.org/Download_Centre/Ten%20arguments%20for%20clean%20.seeds.rtf.

Documentation of the Economic and Social Affairs Committee hearing on co-existence in Brussels, July:
www.zs-l.de/coexistence.

GM-free Ireland Network: www.gmfreeireland.org.

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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