JP Donleavy proclaims a GM-free Ireland (25/4/2004)

JP Donleavy, the alluringly alliterative author behind books such as "The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B" and "The Saddest Summer of Samuel S", is helping to pioneer a GM-FREE Ireland - in hope, perhaps, of not having to rework his striking titles. If he has his way, there'll be no "Meet My Maker The Mad Molecularist", let alone a "GM Ginger Man" or "The Mutated Onion Eaters".

Donleavy is said to have come to the GM issue through a concern about invasive species. His notoriously keen sense of etiquette will doubtless have recoiled before herbicide-tolerant creeping bent grass and all the other Mad Molecularist enormities.

Anyway, a toast to JPD for helping keep Ireland GM FREE:
"Every tulip
Is a julep
And all the mint
Is meant for me."
J.P. Donleavy from
"Meet My Maker the Mad Molecule"


Time: 11.30 am, 22 April, Earth Day 2004
Location: Levington, near Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland
J.P. Donleavy, renowned author and farmer
Jenny Guy, Founder, Slow Food Ireland
Michael O’Callaghan, Co-ordinator, GM-free Ireland Network

Renowned author and beef farmer James Patrick Donleavy will declare his farm in County Westmeath to be the first local GM-free zone in Ireland at 11.30 tomorrow morning.

Mr. Donleavy, who studied Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin, is internationally known for his novel "The Gingerman" and  many other books and plays.

Mr. Donleavy will mark this declaration by the planting of a "GM-free farm" sign on his farm on the shores of Lough Owel, at Levington, near Mullingar in Co. Westmeath, assisted by Jenny Guy, founder of Slow Food Ireland, and Michael O’Callaghan, Co-ordinator of the GM-free Ireland network (www.gmfreeireland.org).

This declaration of Ireland's first GM-free zone is expected to herald similar declarations by farmers and landowners North and South of the border, as a precautionary step against the contamination of their produce with genetically modified animal feed, seeds, crops and live-stock.

Thousands of GM-free zones have already been set up in 22 EU countries, including Wales, the Lake District & over 30 Councils in the UK; 1,500 Communes in France; and large regions of Austria, Italy, Slovenia, and Switzerland, plus the whole of Western Australia.

The setting up of Ireland’s first GM-free zone comes at a crucial time as the new EU rules on the labelling and traceability of genetically modified animal feed, food and crops came into effect across Europe last Sunday.

The Irish Government continues its policy to legalise the commercial release of GM food and crops in Ireland and throughout the EU, against the wishes of a qualified majority of EU governments and 70% of EU consumers.

GM crops have already been legalised by the UK Government; if their commercial release goes ahead as planned in Northern Ireland, this will inevitably lead to irreversible cross-border contamination of conventional and organic crops in the Republic. Ireland’s GM policy was formulated without the due public consultation process required by EU Directive 2001/18/EC.

Later tomorrow (22 April), Mr. Donleavy will also speak about the need to keep Ireland GM-free in his address at the Slow Food Banquet to celebrate the launch of the fifth annual Convergence Festival which also includes a GM-free Ireland workshop next Monday (see below for details) at the Cultivate Sustainable Living Centre in Temple Bar, Dublin (www.sustainable.ie).

Mr. Donleavy’s GM-free farm declaration, the Slow Food Banquet, and the Convergence Festival are part of Ireland's celebration of Earth Day, 22 April 2004. Held annually since 1970, Earth Day is the largest environmental celebration on the planet, involving the participation of over 5,000 groups in 148 countries (www.earthday.net).

Directions to photo call location:

From Dublin take the N4 through Kinnegad towards Mullingar and Sligo. At Mullingar, stay on the bypass ignoring the first three exits. When the dual carriageway ends, take the next left (you will now be heading back towards Mullingar on the old Sligo road, with Lough Owel visible to your right). Go over the level crossing, and take the next right turn with the small signpost for Ballycargy and Lough Owel. The entrance to Levington Farm is through the first set of iron gates on your right. For help in finding the location, call Theresa on 086 895 6729 or Ruadhán on 086 814 6077.


- 3pm at Cultivate, 15-19 Essex St. West, Temple Bar, Dublin. Registration
€10. For enquiries and booking, please call (0404) 43 885.
For more information visit www.global-vision-consulting.com.

Tomorrow’s photo call will publicise the GM-free Ireland workshop at the Convergence Festival on Monday.

This workshop is an open space discussion for stakeholders to explore the political, economic, environmental, and health benefits of keeping the whole island of Ireland free of genetically modified (GM) seeds, food, animal feed, crops and livestock.

Speakers include Ruaidhri Deasy (Deputy President, Irish Farmers Association), Chris Samra and Jim Bowne (Spokespersons for GM-free Wales), Mike Barry (Sustainable Development Manager, Marks & Spencer, UK), Evan Doyle (Co-owner, Brook Lodge, Spokesperson, Euro-Toques Ireland - the European Community of Chefs), Adrian Bebb (GM co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth Europe), Pavitra Chalam (Spokesperson, GM-free India), Bridget Carlin (Spokesperson, Irish Seed Savers Association), and Michael O'Callaghan (Chairman, Global Vision Consulting Ltd and Co-ordinator of the GM-free Ireland Network).

All related policy makers in Government, Local Authorities, National Parks, the food industry, farm organisations, NGOs, health professionals, insurance companies, consumer groups, religious organisations, politicians, the media and the general public are invited to participate. The workshop provides an opportunity for stakeholders to co-ordinate their strategies in preparation for the Forging a GM Policy for Ireland Conference on the weekend of 19-20 June, which will feature keynote speeches by Michael Meacher MP (former UK Environment Minister) and Rémi Parmentier (former Political Director, Greenpeace International), together presentations, policy briefings and workshops by a line-up of European experts in related science, business, farming, environment, safe food, EU regulations and international law. For more information visit www.global-vision-consulting.com.

Background Information:

JP Donleavy was born in New York in 1926 of Irish descent. After serving with the US Marines during WWII, he moved to Ireland where he studied Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin. The adventures that he and others had during this period were fictionalised in his best selling book, "The Gingerman". He spends his time farming and writing in Westmeath and is also known for his paintings.

Jenny Guy was born in Dublin in 1973. She was a partner in Guystuart Foods and is the founder of the Slow Food Movement in Ireland.

Michael O' Callaghan was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1952. He is the Chairman of Global Vision Consulting Ltd, and the Co-ordinator of the GM-free Ireland Network. He is a film maker and author of numerous papers on sustainable development issues. He considers himself an information-artist and lives in the Wicklow Mountains.


Attribution: Michael O'Callaghan
Co-ordinator, GM-free Ireland campaign – www.gmfreeireland.org Chairman,
Forging a GM Policy for Ireland conference –
Chairman, Global Vision Consulting Ltd.
tel (0404) 43 885 mobile: 087 799 4761

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