Source: GM-free Ireland Network press release

13th October 2009


  • Government to ban cultivation of all GM plants  
  • Voluntary GM-free label for meat, poultry, eggs, fish and dairy produce

DUBLIN — The Irish Government will ban the cultivation of all GM crops and introduce a voluntary GM-free label for food – including meat, poultry, eggs, fish, crustaceans, and dairy produce made without the use of GM animal feed.

The policy was adopted as part of the Renewed Programme for Government agreed between the two coalition partners, the centre-right Fianna Faíl and the Green Party, after the latter voted to support it on Saturday.

The agreement specifies that the Government will “Declare the Republic of Ireland a GM-Free Zone, free from the cultivation of all GM plants”. The official text also states “To optimise Ireland’s competitive advantage as a GM-Free country, we will introduce a voluntary GM-Free logo for use in all relevant product labelling and advertising, similar to a scheme recently introduced in Germany.”

The President of the Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers Association, Malcolm Thompson, said he was delighted by the announcement, adding, “The Government’s new GM-free policy is the fulfillment of what we at ICSA have held for the last five years. I very much look forward to its full implementation.

Michael O’Callaghan of GM-free Ireland said the policy signals a new dawn for Irish farmers and food producers:

“The WTO’s economic globalisation agenda has forced  most Irish farmers to enter an unwinnable race to the bottom for low quality  GM-fed meat and dairy produce, in competition with countries like the USA,  Argentina and Brazil which can easily out-compete us with their highly  subsidised GM crop monocultures, cheap fossil fuel, extensive use of toxic  agrochemicals that are not up to EU standards, and underpaid migrant farm  labour”.

Read this press release in full.

ANH comment

The Irish Government is to be congratulated for its brave and important stand in a world that is experiencing a relentless drive by big agri-business and biotech interests which have been attempting to push its very profitable genetically modified (GM) crops and animal feeds into every possible part of the food supply chain.

The fact that all foods and animal feeds that contain more than 0.9% genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the European Union are required by law to specify on their labels that they contain GMOs (using the words “‘This product contains genetically modified organisms’) has caused many large food manufacturers to avoid inclusion of GMOs given consistent rejection of GMOs by European consumers on health and environmental grounds.  However, those consumers who do not have the time or inclination to check the smallprint on labels may be consuming GMOs unwittingly.

However, a major concern of consumers has not only been their consumption of labelled GMO containing foods, but the consumption of animal produce that has been fed GM feed. There is no EU requirement to label such animal produce as having been on GM feed.  Approximately 85% of compounded animal feed in Europe comprises GMO-containing soya, maize, oilseed rape (canola) or cotton — and up until now consumers have been given no information on this.

The development, in Ireland, of a voluntary GM-free labelling regime for animal products fed on GM-free animal feed is a huge step in the right direction. Consumers are concerned not only over the possibility of transfer of modified genes from animal feeds migrating into animal tissues that they then consume, they are also very concerned about the potential environmental effects of the rapidly escalating amounts of GM soya, maize and other crops being cultivated in countries such as the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India and China. In the case of soya, the largest feed crop, a startling 72% of the world crop is now genetically modified.

The Irish government decision, pushed through by the Fianna Faíl and Green Party coalition, is great news for Ireland and for consumers, who are being increasingly denied choice, and we hope that many other countries will be able to follow suit. 

GM food in the United States is not labelled, and as much as 70% of food on supermarket shelves may contain GM ingredients. The good news for US consumers is that the Non-GMO Project is now underway. Its mission is to ‘inspire and ensure viable non-GMO alternatives long into the future’, and the Project invites companies to submit their products to their Product Verification Program. On compliance with the Standard, the "Non-GMO Project Verified" seal can be incorporated onto the product packaging. 

For further information on how to select non-GMO containing foods, please refer to the Institute for Responsible Technology’s Non-GMO Shopping Guide.?


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