THE European Parliament’s Environment and Public Health Committee yesterday voted against proposals that would allow EU member states to control genetically modified (GM) food or feed in their country.
This is a setback for European Commission plans to legislate for GM crops. It is, however, or at least it seems to be, a victory for the industrial farming and food lobby. Also, like many public policy decisions taken at national level or above, the heavy shadow of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) looms.
This is a divisive issue and, though the commercial cultivation of GM crops does not take place in Ireland, the Irish Farmers’ Association has said it supports biotechnology that has proven to be scientifically sound.
Fine Gael MEP Mairéad McGuinness welcomed the decision, saying that “to allow one member state to ban the use of animal feed containing GM ingredients... would disadvantage farmers and seriously disrupt the livestock sector”.
On first reading, this seems an unacceptable championing of the commercial ambitions of one relatively small sector of society, while ignoring the implications of introducing greater quantities of GM food. This issue is rooted in our need to feed growing populations. It is a challenge exacerbated by our enthusiasm for eating meat, a product coming under more rigorous environmental scrutiny. If we did not have that appetite, would we need GM crops?
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