Grain growers seek Irish ban on palm and GMO feed products

A ban on palm kernal, palm oil, GMO soya products and GMO maize has been called for by the Irish Grain Growers’ Group (IGGG), which has urged the country to implement a number of “immediate steps” to protect the Irish tillage sector.

One of the top three topics being discussed on doorsteps by candidates in the upcoming local and European elections is the issue of the environment and climate change, according to the association.

Last week, over 600 scientists launched a petition on the issue of deforestation in Brazil where crops like maize, palm and soya have replaced large swathes of rain forests, the group notes, while up to one million species are predicted to become extinct in the coming decades.

It stated that the Irish public is beginning to question what can be done to have a positive impact, with the agricultural industry coming under the spotlight, “and rightly so”.

“In the past year alone we imported up to seven million tonnes of grains in some form into Ireland and this figure is set to rise with current policy. The ships of grain arrived from far away places like Ukraine, Canada and South America,” the grain growers said in a statement on the matter.

600-700 lorries a day are needed to transport this grain in Ireland. Where does that put us when it comes to food miles? It’s simply illogical.

The IGGG warned that grains used in the food production process “may possibly be currently treated with pesticides banned from Ireland and the EU up to 30 years ago”.

It also added that up to 75% of the grains used in the recent past in Ireland have been imported.

To counteract these concerns, and the rapid decline of tillage acreage in Ireland, the group believes Ireland should take a number of immediate steps.

These incorporate: a law change to enforce a ban; a voluntary push by Irish supermarkets; an increase in tillage acreage; convergence; and backing for a ban from industry representative groups.

“Irish supermarkets should lead the way and plan to clear their shelves of palm kernals, palm oil, GMO soya [byproducts] and GMO maize-related products within a year,” the group said.

On increasing the acreage used for tillage, the organisation stated: “The results from the recent Teagasc report surely suggest we must reverse this trend and set a target of at least doubling the area under tillage here in Ireland with CAP reform in mind.”

Regarding convergence, the grain growers’ statement maintains: “Convergence in CAP may be a popular political decision – but ultimately will it deliver negative dividends where we have to import far greater volumes of grains due to the negative impact convergence will have on the Irish tillage sector?

CAP reform must encourage the growing of crops.

Finally, the group argued that dairy co-operatives and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) should give their backing to the proposals, and “immediately insist on a ban” in the use of such products in feedstuff for livestock.

“Co-ops should not be actively encouraging it by selling these grains to farmers and feedlots,” the group concluded.