Dáil Éireann - Volume 609 - 08 November, 2005

Written Answers. - Genetically Modified Organisms.

  478. Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will make a statement on correspondence (details supplied). [32545/05]

  Mary Coughlan: In Ireland responsibility for genetically modified foods comes under the aegis of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Minister for Health and Children, while responsibility for the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms into the environment rests with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. My Department has responsibility for animal feed containing genetically modified organisms and the actual cultivation and coexistence of approved genetically modified crops.

In recent years a considerable amount of new legislation has been adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers aimed at strengthening the controls governing the approval, cultivation and use of genetically modified products and thereby ensuring that the highest standards are in place from a food safety and environmental aspect throughout the community.

The establishment of the European Food Safety Authority has provided further safeguards in that it gives the citizens of the EU an independent scientific body with responsibility for the assessment, advice and communication of any risk associated with genetically modified organisms.

With regard to the Commission decision taken on 31 August, the authorisation granted for GT73 oilseed rape for use in animal feed was in accordance with the procedures set out in Directive 2001/18/EC which comes within the remit of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

While EU legislation governing genetically modified organisms is binding in all member states of the EU, member states are given subsidiarity in relation to coexistence between genetically modified and non-genetically modified crops, where they are allowed to draw up their own rules based on European Commission guidelines.

In 2004 an interdepartmental group comprised of representatives of the Department of Agriculture and Food, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Teagasc and the Environmental Protection Agency, was established to examine issues related to coexistence and to draw up rules for coexistence arrangements in Ireland. The group has recently submitted its report and recommendations. In drawing up the recommendations contained in the report, the group took on board the full range of factors surrounding the genetically modified organisms issue, that is, the principles laid down in the Commission guidelines on genetically modified organisms, coexistence, Government policy on genetically modified organisms, scientific issues, new developments in genetically modified organisms technology, the Irish crop production system and farm infrastructure and liability.

I will publish the report shortly and will invite observations on the recommendations in the report.