Ireland's role as biotech stooge (18/11/2005)

This follows on from 'Chief Scientific Officer of Ireland accused of GM cover-up'

Ireland's role as biotech stooge
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In 1997, Fianna Fail issued a policy statement promising never to allow GMO crops in Ireland. But following a White House luncheon with US National Security Adviser Sandy Berger on St. Patrick's Day 1998, Bertie Ahern has actively supported the biotech industry's efforts to force GM food and crops into Europe. Ireland has never voted against legalising GM crops in the European Parliament against the wishes of 70% of consumers and the majority of Member States.

Just before leaving office in late 2005, EU President Pat Cox and EU Healh and Consumer Affairs Commissioner David Byrne ended the de facto moratorium on GM crops by legalising 17 varieties of Monsanto GM maize, to the great annoyance of other EU governments.

In 2002, EU Joint Research Centre CEO Dr. Barry McSweeney attempted to suppress the publication of the EC's official Scenarios for Co-existence report on the feasibility of introducing GM crops in EU member states.

The report concluded that GM crops inevitably contaminate conventional and organic crops and may cause 40% higher production costs for EU farmers. McSweeney wrote to the EC recommending that the report should not be made public, stating "given the sensitivity of the issue, I would suggest that the report be kept for internal use within the Commission only..". McSweeney's ties to the biotech industry include being a former Director of BioResearch Ireland and Biocon Biochemicals. In 2004, Tanaiste Mary Harney appointed him to the new post of Chief Scientific Officer of Ireland. In October 2005 it emerged that McSweeney bought his PhD from the so-called Pacific Western University, an online institution which US authorities describe as a diploma mill.

Food Safety Authority of Ireland CEO Dr. John O'Brien is a former Director of the International Life Sciences Institute, a Washington-based biotech & tobacco industry front group which infiltrated scientific commitees of the World Health Organisation and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in order to downgrade tobacco health warnings and downplay the evidence that high levels of sugar in junk foods cause childhood obesity and diabetes.

Monsanto Ireland managing director Dr. Patrick O'Reilly told the Royal Irish Academy that it doesn't matter that GM crops would inevitably contaminate Irish farmers and put organic farmers out of business.

Why does the Irish Times repeatedly deny the evidence of GM health and environmental risks? Irish Times Trust chairman and TCD Genetics professor David McConnell is Co-chair of EAGLES (European Action on Global Life Sciences, an agri-biotech lobby group). Despite opposition by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has authorised the sale of GM animal feed and food. The Department of Trade and Enterprise has authorised 82 GMO patents. The Department of Agriculture's consultation procedure for a National Strategy on the "co-existence" of GMO crops excludes 80% of the stakeholders and fails to comply with the Aarhus Convention laws on public participation.

This government's fundamentalist pro-GM role as biotech industry stooge will condemn future generations to a perpetual biological colonialism with no possibility of liberation. The only way to prevent this government-led disaster is to deal with it now before it happens.

As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world!"


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