EU Commission to vote on GM potato used in Ireland

Irish Examiner
18.02.2008
By Ann Cahill

EU AGRICULTURE ministers will vote today on a highly controversial GM potato that, according to the World Health Organisation, could make people resistant to some antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections.

The Environment Minister and Green Party leader John Gormley voted against allowing the GM potato a few months ago while Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan normally abstains in such votes.

The potato, developed by the German chemical company BASF, contains a marker gene nptll, that according to the WHO and the EU Medicines Agency, can induce resistance to two families of antibiotics they say are “critically important for veterinary and human use”.

Greenpeace also notes the gene nptll was supposed to have been phased out by December 2004 under EU legislation because of its adverse effect on human health and the environment.

…and this is the report [EFSA saying the Potato is safe] that will be considered by agriculture ministers when they meet today in Brussels to discuss allowing it and four varieties of GM maize.

The ministers are expected to be split on the decision again with insufficient countries voting. If this is the case, the European Commission will be forced to decide and it is expected to go with the EFSA recommendation.

GM-Free Ireland Network launched a broadside against Fine Gael’s agriculture spokesperson, Michael Creed, for saying the Government’s GM free stance was unsustainable.

Network spokesperson, Michael O’Callaghan, said: “His suggestion that we have to face up to what he calls the reality of GM foods whether we like it or not comes directly from the biotech industry’s current public relations strategy designed to convince people there is nothing you can do to stop the GM invasion”.

The Network also described Mr Creed’s statement that GM was needed to feed the world and cope with global climate change as “akin to belief in Leprechauns”.

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