GMO Potato trials
We hear that Teagasc (Irish Research, Advisory and Training Body for Agriculture and Food Industry) has applied to the EPA (Irish Environmental Protection Agency) for a licence to plant GMO potatoes at its facility in Carlow. This facility at Oak Park has apparently been our centre of excellence for research into the potato for decades, and has contributed in many ways to improving our potato industry. This request for a licence is part of an ongoing EU project, under a research programme called 'Amiga'.
Now, what are we doing here? Are we seriously taking one of the iconic products of Ireland - the humble spud - and letting GMO versions of it out into our natural environment? Is this for real??
At a time when we should be protecting our 'Green image' as contained in our 2020 national Food Harvest strategy:
Capitalising on Ireland’s association with the colour
‘green’ is pivotal to developing the marketing
opportunity for Irish agri-food. This will build on our
historic association with the colour and highlight
the environmental credentials associated with our
extensive, low-input, grass-based production systems
a State body seems to be intent on facilitating this 'green' image of natural products, to be totally destroyed by conducting GMO field trials?
We may have already sold a lot of our tangible resources into the hands of international banks and other institutes, but are we really intent on destroying our chances of regaining our position in a prosperous world?
The whole Brand Ireland concept, will be buried alongside the GMO potato tubers, if the EPA consents to this farcical situation which flies in the face of consumer negativity towards consuming GMO foods, never mind the potential impact on the environment by us tampering with nature in ways that we know not how they will us in future generations.
As the operator of an indoor Farmers Market for the past nearly 30 months, a core part of our message has been that Irish produce is good, ethical, and safe. We are not sure if we can still make this claim if these trials go ahead - and doubt is enough to create fear and to do untold damage to our reputation as a green country - both home and abroad - these trials are simply not worth that risk.
Most farmers are much more concerned that potatoes are now being seen as bargain basement products by the big supermarkets, alongside milk, where people expect to buy them at below the production costs. Now if that were tackled, it would be a far perferable area for a State Agency on which to concentrate some effort & resource.