GMO activists IOFGA jump the gun

Good article in the Guardian yesterday by Eoin Lettice from the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University College Cork, on Why Ireland needs to test GM potatoes.

A major new European Union study is set to examine the effects of growing genetically modified, blight-resistant potato plants on biodiversity and the environment in agricultural ecosystems. It will also see the first GM crops being grown in Ireland since the late 1990s.

In a statement issued last month, Teagasc (the Irish agricultural development agency) announced it is seeking a licence to carry out field trials of GM potatoes as part of the AMIGA consortium – a group including representatives of research bodies from 15 EU countries.

Lettice makes the very good point that in setting up these trials Teagasc is only doing the job it was set up to do:

Teagasc is Ireland’s agriculture and food development agency. Its role is to carry out research leading to a better understanding of agriculture and new agronomic techniques. To accuse such a body of “wasting” money by doing the very thing it was set up to do is ridiculous.

Indeed, if trials to see the biological impact of these crops are not permitted, how can we gather information about whether the crop is safe or not? It would appear the activists are ahead of themselves, assuming risks while trying to ban trials that would provide the evidence either way.

Lettice says that IOFGA have also jumped the gun- in a statement released last week they claim Teagasc will be wasting tax-payers money- although the trials will be paid for entirely through EU’s FP7 research programme – a €50bn fund earmarked for research and technological development. “There is no question of further money coming from Irish taxpayers.”

This will make little difference to the activists in the Organic lobby. As one of the commentators below the article notes, “You are dealing with a religion here and you can’t fight religion with facts.”

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