Dáil Éireann - Volume 490 - 23 April, 1998

Written Answers - Genetic Engineering.

25. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the steps, if any, he will take to reassure the public in view of consumer concern regarding genetically modified crops; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9404/98]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): As I mentioned in reply to Parliamentary Question No. 11 of 26 February 1998 genetically engineered crops have considerable potential for the production of safer and cheaper food. Genetically modified organisms have been used extensively in the production of food and food ingredients in some countries.

Product development research is ongoing worldwide, including limited field trials of genetically modified sugar beet plants in this country. Pending the outcome of the development research stage on new products, it would be inappropriate to come to any conclusions on their possible future use for food or feed purposes. I am conscious of public concern regarding genetically modified products, and I believe their development and use should proceed on a precautionary basis in the best interests of both consumers and the environment.

European Union legislation concerning the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms into the environment for development research purposes and, in appropriate cases, the subsequent placing on the market of novel foods and novel food ingredients is implemented at national level by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Children respectively.