GE - More on Ireland
Date: 97-10-02 19:54:14 EDT
The Irish Times October 1, 1997
HEADLINE: McKenna praises genetic beet crop sabotage
BYLINE: By KEVIN O'SULLIVAN
Environmental activists who dug up and destroyed Ireland's first crops of genetically engineered
sugar beet "deserve full praise", the Green Party MEP, Ms Patricia McKenna, has
said. "If Monsanto, which was carrying out the beet trials, and the
Environmental Protection Agency, which licensed the trials,
insist on playing games with the Irish environment, then fair
play to those who challenge them through peaceful direct
action," she said.
A spokesman for the US
multinational, Monsanto, said her comments were "extraordinary",
given that the destruction of a one-acre site at Teagasc's
research centre at Oakpark, Carlow, "was an illegal act".
Her comments were surprising, he said, as the Green Party had
always supported the Irish environmental group, Genetic
Concern, which has said it does not condone the action, claimed
to have been carried out by the so-called Gaelic Earth
An EPA spokeswoman confirmed the site had been
examined by its technical expert on genetically modified
organisms, who would today oversee a complete extraction of the
crop from the site. Under the terms of the licence granted to
Monsanto, it was required to destroy the crop anyway once the
trial was completed, she said.
It was the EPA view that the trial posed no risks to the
Irish environment, she said. Monsanto confirmed that a criminal
investigation had been initiated by the Garda. It said it
intends to resume the trial as soon as possible and would not
be deterred from working on a scientific evaluation which would
have shown the benefits of genetic modification technology.
A spokesman for Teagasc condemned the action.
[Entered Greenbase October 1, 1997 ]
Saboteurs destroy Ireland's first GMO crop
ENDS Daily - 30/09/97
Protesters destroyed Ireland's first experimental
plantation of a genetically modified crop at the weekend.
An individual claiming to represent the hitherto unknown
Gaelic Earth Liberation Front (GELF) took responsibility
for the sabotage in an anonymous phone call to a London-
based NGO, Genetic Engineering Network.
US firm Monsanto received permission from the Irish
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in May to plant the
sugar beet, which is engineered for resistance to its
Round Up herbicide (ENDS Daily 7 May). The company today
"condemned" the sabotage.
Business manager for Monsanto Ireland Sydney Reid told
ENDS Daily: "When you are doing trials that are
perfectly legal under European and Irish law...[and]
people engage in this sort of activity it indicates that
they have run out of any logical argument or discussion."
Mr Reid said the company had already managed to glean
useful data from the trial. Monsanto is conducting
similar tests with sugar beet in several European
countries so the setback in Ireland is not considered
disastrous. He said that the company would continue
with its three-year research programme in Ireland and
would plant a new crop next spring.
GELF's action was also "deplored" by Ireland's newly
established bio-industry association (IBIA). IBIA's
director Matt Moran told ENDS Daily that he was very
concerned at the action against a legitimate activity.
"It's not something that we have seen happen in Ireland
very much." The IBIA is planning to launch a public
information campaign on the benefits of biotechnology in
the new year.
Irish genetic campaigners today distanced themselves from
the destruction but said they were not surprised it had
happened. Quentin Gargan, a spokesperson for Genetic
Concern, told ENDS Daily that it "reflected frustration
and anger" at the lack of public debate about
biotechnology in Ireland.
Earlier this year, Genetic Concern was given leave by the
Irish High Court to challenge the Irish EPA's decision to
authorise Monsanto's trial. The court is due to begin a
judicial review of the decision on 10 December. But the
group failed to obtain an injunction to prevent Monsanto
from carrying on with its trial in the meantime.
Without the sabotage at the weekend the crop would have
been harvested before the judicial review began. Mr
Gargan said: "Clearly some group has decided not to
await the outcome of a court case and to take the law
into their own hands."
Contacts: Monsanto Ireland, tel: +353 1 276 1720;
Genetic Concern, tel: +353 1 670 5606; Irish Bio-
Industry Association, tel: +353 1 660 1011.
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