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Ireland’s Image Threatened by GM Potato

Ireland’s Image Threatened by GM Potato

Ireland, long synonymous with lush green hills and local family farms, is now seeing its agriculturally bucolic reputation flip upside down with the threat of introducing genetically modified (GM) potatoes. Designed to withstand blight, a disease that devastates the crop turning potatoes into inedible mush, these GM potatoes would hypothetically not be impacted by the disease, saving Ireland its staple food as well as significant funds.

Although only in the initial trial phases of research, local and international pushback is quickly developing with many arguing that Ireland’s public reputation is gravely at stake with the introduction of a GM crop. The country claims, however, that it is “doing [everything] to make sure [the GM potato] is safe for the environment.”  Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority, was recently granted a license by the EPA to go ahead with testing.

Genetically modified food is nothing new, especially in the United States.  Nonetheless, many remain doubtful that using genetically modified plants are the long term solution to a sustainable food source.  In fact, more and more studies are emerging pointing to negative side effects of GM crops, particularly those related to health, the impact on pollinators such as honeybees and monarchs, and the natural environment.

What may seem like a “smart” short term economic and food security decision on Ireland’s part can therefore have detrimental impacts down the road and on the global food supply.  For example, GM crops often require more herbicide as plant strands mutate and evolve into stronger genetic strains.  These strains can also spread.  In the United States alone, “GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes on to weeds” in those regions. Another stark example is the recent search for a GM apple that never turns brown.

Ireland’s decision to push forward with the study of GM potatoes has a disturbing ripple effect that not only threatens Ireland’s strong farming roots and agricultural history, but leads one to ask: what additional crops could soon be added to the GM list?  It’s a slippery slope.

Gavin Lynch of the Organic Trust in Dublin agrees, saying that this approval has “grave ramifications for Irish food and farming.”  Lynch also commented that this research trial “will be the first GM trial since 1996 when a previous attempt at growing GM sugar beets was discontinued.”  Let’s hope this attempt at growing GM potatoes gets the same degree of scrutiny.

Related Stories:

The GM Apple That Won’t Turn Brown

Fattening Our Kids on GMO Foods

Top 5 GMO Foods To Watch Out For

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Photo Credit: Tahir mq

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8:10AM PST on Dec 20, 2012

I will always muse fondly over the bonnie Wicklow Mountains and the people's sweet smiles about the Ring of Kerry and Dingle. If it's good enough for Ireland, it's good enough for me !

3:01PM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Donkeys! :)

12:09PM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Teagasc went against the agricultural sector in allowing this initial test. Oh it is "going to be strictly monitored" and regulated. MMMMMM like the banking sector !!!!!!!!!! Leave Nature alone it is not for sale yo Monsanto.....

8:59AM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

I hope they don't!

6:14AM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

A petition to get Teagasc (the Irish Research body proposing to grow GM potatoes) staff and the EPA staff in Ireland to eat the GM potatoes they grow as part of a national research project to assess the long term effects of consuming GM potatoes in the human diet.

The petition can be viewed and signed on

12:35AM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Thanks for the article.

8:23AM PDT on Aug 6, 2012

If Ireland goes for growing GMO crops, I and all my family and friends would boycott all Irish produce.

3:57AM PDT on Aug 6, 2012

"If Ireland goes for growing GMO crops, I and all my family and friends would boycott all Irish produce."

EXCELLEN - read the following (and thanks);

then TELL THEM how not sustainable this GMO rubbish is (Bord Bia is our food marketing board);

Thanks...and don't forget to sign

5:42PM PDT on Aug 5, 2012

If Ireland goes for growing GMO crops, I and all my family and friends would boycott all Irish produce.

5:03PM PDT on Aug 5, 2012


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