Ireland has decided not to seek a national opt-out of automatic authorisations for the growing of GM crops, according to the Department of the Environment.

European legislation to this effect became law on Saturday past (October 3).

Responsibility for GM policy and regulation in Ireland rests across a range of government departments and agencies.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment said that, at present, there is no commercial cultivation of GM crops in Ireland.

“The relevant government departments and agencies are continuing to discuss and consider the revised legislation on GM cultivation, and what, if any, the practical and legal implications might be for the future.

“Irish GMO policy including in relation to the opt-out clause which Ireland supported when first proposed, is continually kept under review on the basis of experiences and approaches of other member states.

“Ireland can still opt out of GM cultivation beyond the deadline of 3rd October.  None of the currently authorised GM crops are cultivated, or will be cultivated in Ireland.

“The Minister for Environment retains the prerogative to restrict any relevant GM crops at a future date. Any such decision would be informed by socio-economic needs while also taking into consideration the best interests of the environment, human health and the agriculture sector.”

However, it said at this juncture, it is considered that acting to restrict cultivation, where such cultivation would not occur in any case, is unnecessary.

Irish Grain and Feed Association director Deirdre Webb confirmed that the organisation supported the principle of free choice for farmers.

“No one has yet shown that GM technology is unsafe,” she said.

“And this reality has helped shape our policy on GM, both from a crop production and feed formulation perspective.

“The growing of GM crops is not a big issue here in Ireland but the use of the new cultivars in compound animal feeds is a crucially important matter for our livestock sectors.”