Time: 11.30am, 22 April, Earth Day 2004

Location: Levington, near Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland

With: J.P. Donleavy, renowned author and farmer; Jenny Guy, Co-founder, Slow Food Ireland; and Michael OíCallaghan, Co-ordinator, GM-free Ireland Network


Dublin, 22 April 2004 ï Global Vision Consulting Ltd.

Renowned author and beef farmer James Patrick Donleavy will declare his farm in County Westmeath to be the first local GM-free zone in Ireland at 11.30 this morning. Mr. Donleavy, who studied Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin, is internationally known for his novel "The Gingerman" and many other books and plays. Mr. Donleavy will mark this declaration by the planting of a "GM-free farm" sign on his farm on the shores of Lough Owel, at Levington, near Mullingar in Co. Westmeath, assisted by Jenny Guy, founder of Slow Food Ireland, and Michael O'Callaghan, Co-ordinator of the GM-free Ireland Network (

This declaration of Irelandís first GM-free zone is expected to herald similar declarations by farmers and landowners North and South of the border, as a precautionary step against the contamination of their produce with genetically modified animal feed, seeds, crops and livestock. Thousands of GM-free zones have already been set up in 22 EU countries, including Wales, the Lake District & over 30 Councils in the UK; 1,500 Communes in France; and large regions of Austria, Italy, Slovenia, and Switzerland, plus the whole of Western Australia.

The setting up of Irelandís first GM-free zone comes at a crucial time as the new EU rules on the labelling and traceability of genetically modified animal feed, food and crops came into effect across Europe last Sunday. The Irish Government continues its policy to legalise the commercial release of GM food and crops in Ireland and throughout the EU, against the wishes of a qualified majority of EU governments and 70% of EU consumers. GM crops have already been legalised by the UK Government; if their commercial release goes ahead as planned in Northern Ireland, this will inevitably lead to irreversible cross-border contamination of conventional and organic crops in the Republic. Irelandís GM policy was formulated without the due public consultation process required by EU Directive 2001/18/EC.

Later today (22 April 2004), Mr. Donleavy will speak about the need to keep Ireland GM-free in his address at the Slow Food Banquet to celebrate the launch of the fifth annual Convergence Festival ( at the Cultivate sustainable living centre in Temple Bar, Dublin. The festival includes a GM-free Ireland workshop on Monday 26 April (see

Mr. Donleavy's GM-free farm declaration, the Slow Food Banquet, and the Convergence Festival are part of Irelandís celebration of Earth Day, 22 April 2004. Held annually since 1970, Earth Day is the largest environmental celebration on the planet, involving the participation of over 12,000 groups in 174 countries (

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