Dáil Éireann - Volume 621 - 20 June, 2006
Written Answers. - Genetically Modified Organisms.
Dr. Upton Dr. Upton
Dr. Upton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide this Deputy with copies of the assessments reports regarding the application of the Community legislation referred to on page 10 of the Press Release for the 2713th [European] Council Meeting of 9 March 2006; the position she is taking in the June 2006 European Council of Environment Ministers meeting on the issue of whether or not the precautionary principle should be applied to the assessment, as part of the EU’s approval process for genetically modified organisms, of the possible long-term consequences of the use of GMO products; her views, in view of  the 28 January 2005 comments by the European Communities on the Scientific and Technical Advice to the WTO panel investigating allegations on the part of the USA, Canada and Australia that the measures affecting the approval and marketing of biotech products DS291, DS292 and DS293 constituted illegal barriers to trade, of the possibility of intensifying scientific research into the long-term health and environmental implications of GMOs; the importance of considerations as to the long-term health and environmental consequences of the use of GMO products being a part of the EU’s GMO approval process; and when the 2006 European Council of Environment Minister’s meeting will take place. [23715/06]
Mr. Roche Mr. Roche
Mr. Roche:My Department understands that copies of the assessment reports referred to have not yet been made available to member states by the European Commission.
The forthcoming Environment Council of 27 June 2006 will provide for an exchange of views on GMOs, including specifically on the role of the precautionary principle in the authorisation and risk assessment of GMOs and GMO products. The precautionary principle is already a central component of Ireland’s national policy on GMOs; this policy is positive but precautionary based on the Report of the Inter-Departmental Group on Modern Biotechnology published in October 2000.
The EU Commission has recently decided to introduce practical changes to the GMO approval process employed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to enhance the scientific consistency and transparency of GMO decision-making. These will include a requirement that the potential long-term effects of GMOs, as well as bio-diversity issues, are to be addressed more explicitly and with due regard to the uses of the product.
The Commission’s approach represents an attempt to bridge the different positions adopted by Member States. I also acknowledge the good work of the Austrian Presidency in organising expert meetings on co-existence and the precautionary principle as these apply to GMOs. Ireland broadly welcomes these developments as contributing to a better understanding among member states of these issues and a more transparent and consistent regulatory regime.
Dáil Éireann 621 Written Answers. Genetically Modified Organisms.