Agriculture and Food Minister Joe Walsh confirmed in the Dáil that the Government has supported the general approach adopted by the EU Commission on GMOs, which is compatible with the official Irish position.
“Our attitude is that the marketing of GM products should be allowed within the community only in exceptional circumstances.
“Our attitude to cultivation is even more conservative. It has rightly been pointed out that we have a positive image as a food-producing country and we want to retain it.
“There is a role for biotechnology, however, especially in the field of medicine and we think it should be cautiously allowed to develop.”
Scottish ministers are reported to have agreed with the British Government to allow genetically modified crops to be grown in England but not in Scotland.
The Labour government’s approval for Britain’s first commercial cultivation of a GM crop (maize) is expected to be announced today.
With regard to the growing of GM crops here, Mr Walsh said “I have established an interdepartmental-interagency working group to examine and come forward with recommended guidelines on strategies and best practices to ensure such co-existence.”
But Sinn Fein’s Martin Ferris, TD, and Councillor Gerry McHugh, said a new report by scientists in the United States underlines the case against the introduction of GM food and products.
It found that transgenically derived DNA was found in most of the samples tested. The authors cite this as proof of the impossibility of preventing cross-contamination and of the danger this presents to the producers of high quality natural food produce.
Mr Ferris and Cllr McHugh said the findings make nonsense of the claim that GM and normal crops can co-exist.