IRELAND: US lobbying may have changed govt policy on GM food approvals

Lobbying by US officials persuaded the Irish government to vote in favour of EU approval of American GM maize crops, despite official support for a moratorium, claims the magazine, Phoenix.

In its latest issue, Phoenix alleges that not only did US National Security Advisor Sandy Berger meet with and lobby the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern about the Irish position relating to an EU vote, but that Noel Dempsey also met with the US Secretary for Agriculture Richard Rominger a week later.

According to Sadhbh O’Neill, spokesperson for the lobby group Genetic Concern, “the significance of these meetings is that the day after the Taoiseach met Mr. Berger, the Irish government voted in favour of approving a controversial GE maize crop for the first time. At no stage before had the Irish officials voted in favour of any GE crop approval – they had abstained in the absence of a national policy.”

Noel Dempsey has repeatedly refused to meet with Genetic Concern or any other group concerned about genetic engineering in food and agriculture on the basis that a ‘consultation process’ is underway. O’ Neill said “we were told that we couldn’t get a meeting because the Minister refused to meet any interest group in advance of the consultation process. Yet Genetic Concern has learned that the report from this process, which collapsed in June when the environmental groups withdrew, has been sitting on the Minister’s desk since July, and he has still refused to publish it.”

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