Press Release

Minister O´Malley comments on Genetically Modified Foods

Mr Tim O´Malley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with responsibility for Food Safety, today (29th June 2004) welcomed the recent discussion held in the Seanad on Genetically Modified Foods at which the Minister spoke on the Government´s position on GM Foods and the public concerns and media reports concerning the issue. Minister O´Malley stated “Since taking office, this Government has attached great importance to the issue of food safety and to the concerns of consumers in particular. It recognises the need for uncompromised and independently verifiable assurances on food safety to ensure consumer confidence. This is particularly the case in the approach taken to GM foods.”

Independent scientific advice provides no evidence that the GM foods authorised within the EU pose a risk to human health and that no product consisting of, containing or derived from GMOs can be authorised for marketing without first having undergone appropriate safety assessment. The EU has one of the most rigorous regimes for the assessment of GMOs as well as food and feed derived from GMOs. In this regard only GM foods which satisfy the highest standards of safety are allowed on the market. This is combined with comprehensive safeguard measures on traceability and labelling.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is the competent authority in Ireland for the enforcement of this EU legislation. The FSAI carries out checks on the marketplace for compliance with GM legislation. Minister O´Malley said “Consumer safety and consumer choice are paramount in the approach taken to GM foods, as reflected in the extent of the legislation developed to deal with this sensitive area. Consequently, I am satisfied that appropriate arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of authorised GM foods, or foods containing GM ingredients placed on the market in Ireland.”

Genetic modification techniques have opened up new possibilities for growth in sectors such as agriculture and industry, and have made a significant contribution to modern healthcare. Genetic modification techniques are widely used in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, including the production of valuable medicines such as human insulin for use by diabetics. Genetic modification is also central to the development of new gene therapy treatments to combat serious disease and disability. The benefits from these developments, particularly in the medical area are well documented and widely accepted as a significant benefit for those requiring such treatment.

Minister O´Malley said “I am satisfied the proper safeguards are in place and that labelling requirements provide a satisfactory and acceptable means to allow consumers become fully informed at all times of the content of the food they are purchasing. I am keeping the matter of genetic modification of foodstuffs under continuing review and am determined to ensure that public health and the rights of consumers are fully protected in this regard.”

Additional Information:

The FSAI has published a leaflet on “Food Safety and Genetically Modified Foods” which is currently being updated to take account of new legislation. In addition, the FSAI, in conjunction with Government Departments and industry organisations, is currently formulating a guidance note for industry which will highlight the legislation with regard to GMOs.

Food Safety Authority of Ireland
Abbey Court
Lower Abbey Street
Dublin 1
Phone + 353 1 817 1300
Fax +353 1 817 1301
Advice Line Number is 1890 33 66 77