Ireland to maintain a ‘GMO-free status’

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, has secured Cabinet approval to enable Ireland to prohibit or restrict the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Ireland.

The decision was announced today (Tuesday, July 10), after Minister Naughten proposed the EU directive to Cabinet.

The Government approved for the transposition of Directive 2015/412 of the European Parliament and of the council on March 11 2015, which will enable Ireland to opt out of cultivation of GMO crops approved for cultivation elsewhere in the EU.

In a previous directive, member states were obliged to allow the growth of crops from GMOs, where specific projects have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority.

‘Key element’

Announcing the Cabinet’s decision today, Minister Naughten said:

“This is a very significant development; I believe it is critically important that Ireland takes whatever steps are necessary to maintain our GMO cultivation-free status, which is a key element of our international reputation as a green, sustainable food producer.”

The maintenance of the country’s ‘GMO-free status’ will take place on a much wider range of policy grounds than had previously been the case.

These grounds will include: where such cultivation would be contrary to environmental policy objectives; town and country planning; land use; socio-economic impacts; avoidance of GMO presence in other products; agricultural policy objectives and public policy.

The minister continued, adding: “The transposition of Directive 2015/412 will help to copper-fasten Ireland’s GMO cultivation-free status.”

‘Enabling rather than compulsory’

Commenting on business sectors where the use of GMOs is vitally important, the minister said:

“It is important to note that the transposition affects only the cultivation of ‘live’ GMOs in this country. It has no implications for other sectors of our economy where GMO products play a vital role, such as in the bio-technology and pharmaceutical sectors and in food and feed.”

Concluding his announcement the minister stressed the fact that Directive 2015/412 is an “enabling, rather than a compulsory, directive”.

“Whilst it is my intention to apply the opt-out provision, I propose to keep the matter of Ireland’s GMO cultivation policy under review in consultation with my colleagues in Government and in light of scientific developments in this rapidly-evolving sector,” said the minister.