GM crops have been grown commercially around the world for over 15 years now and they have yet to offer any real benefits. In the EU at the moment GM crops are cultivated on 0.06% of agricultural land. 74% of which is grown in one country Spain. Maize (MON 108) is the only crop which has been allowed to be cultivated however MON 108 is banned in Greece, Hungary, Austria, Luxemborg, France and Germany.
The economic, social and environmental benefits promised by biotech companies and governments have not been experienced by farmers or consumers. Instead the cost of GM crop production has continued to rise for farmers who are then left with a product which does not have a market as consumers do not want to eat GM food.
Dr. Sinead Neiland, Chairperson of IOA states that “data from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) records that over the first 13 years of commercial use of GM crops the use of herbicides has increased by 383 million pounds. The overall chemical footprint of GM crops is huge and continues to grow each year”.
The 3 main GM crops grown globally are soybeans, corn, and cotton. Corn and soybeans are grown primarily for animal-feed. These crops are grown on huge farms which greatly reduces the biodiversity in these areas. Evidence is beginning to emerge that if GM crops are fed to animals, small amounts of GM material appear in the resulting meat and dairy products, and this was not previously identified. “Both of these issues, chemical use and traces of GM material from animal-feed raise serious human and animal health concerns about the use of GMO’s in food, and also major ethical concerns about the fact that foods from GM-fed animals remain unlabelled” stated Dr Neiland.
In the new Programme for Government in Ireland there is a commitment to introducing a voluntary labelling code for non GM products. This would be welcome both by food producers (conventional and organic) and also by consumers who could then make an informed choice.
There are very serious negative impacts associated with GM crop cultivation that need to be fully explored in the EU before we move forward in the GM debate. We in Ireland need to consider our “clean green image” as the food island. Small scale diverse production offers far more opportunities here and it also has a positive impact on the environment. Organic farming is a sustainable method of food production which is what consumers want, not high input unsustainable GM food.
The Irish Organic Association (IOFGA) is the largest organic certification organisation in Ireland. It is responsible for certifying the organic provenance of its members produce and the IOA symbol indicates that a product has met the highest standard of organic integrity. IOA also works to inform the public about the benefits or organic food and to support the development of organic food production in Ireland.
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For further information contact:
Development Office IOFGA
Tel 087 6125989
 Friends of the Earth Europe 2009
 “Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States the first 13 years” by Charles Benbrook, the Organic Center