1.The health risks of GM foods
2.Claim that GM foods present health risk 'irrefutable'
3.Minister to act quickly on issue of GM-free food
4.Ireland stands up to US pressure on GMOs
Note: For more on Shane Morris and Doug Powell (item 1) see 'GM Propaganda Lab'
1.The health risks of GM foods
Letter sent to the Editor of the Irish Times, 29 June 2007
Shane Morris's attack on Jeffrey Smith's book Genetic Roulette ”š The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Modified Foods (Letters, June 29th) employs the "shoot the messenger" strategy favoured by agri-biotech industry spin doctors who are no longer able to deny the growing scientific evidence which links GM food and animal feed to deaths and disease in laboratory animals, livestock and the human population.
Morris and his biotech colleage and mentor Doug Powell (a well-known GM industry lobbyist) have co-authored a number of pro-GMO papers, one of which received the GM Watch Propaganda Lab Award 2006 for its [XXXXXXXXXX *] scientific claims, triggering a controversy reported by New Scientist magazine.
Morris wrote his letter in response to the Kildare-based farmer Nick Cullen (Letters, June 28th), who critiqued your newspaper's coverage of the briefing on Food Safety and GMOs which I recently organised with Kathy Sinnott MEP at the EU Parliament Office in Dublin ("Sargent says GMO-free pledge is a 'huge step'", June 16th).
As Nick Cullen rightly pointed out, that article avoided any reference to the peer-reviewed scientific papers presented at the briefing, including those summarised in Genetic Roulette, but quoted instead from statements from the floor by the Chairman of the Irish Times Trust, Prof David McConnell, who attempted to portray Trevor Sargent [Ireland's new Minister of State for Agriculture and Food] and anyone else who disagrees with his views on GMOs as scientifically illiterate.
In the interests of transparency, your article should have mentioned that Prof McConnell's Smurfit School of Genetics at TCD is part-funded by the agribiotech industry, and that he is also the Co-Chair of EAGLES (European Action on Global Life Sciences), a biotech industry lobby group which promotes GM food and crops in the developing countries.
Our new government's aim to keep the whole island of Ireland free of GM crops and livestock will help our food and farm sectors retain access to the EU market for safe food, which increasingly prohibits or restricts the use of any food (including meat and dairy produce) containing or derived from genetically modified ingredients.
Our media should not encourage us to abandon this long-term competitive advantage because of vested interests.
GM foods and farming present a variety of extremely serious health, agronomic, environmental, legal, economic and food security risks. Please provide some more balanced coverage of these issues in the Irish Times!
Co-ordinator, GM-free Ireland Network
[* The following is taken from the gmfreeireland website where the letter was originally posted:
"Background information (not included in the letter):
The deleted adjective used to describe the scientific paper has been censored following a threat of libel action by a Canadian Government agent called Shane Morris!"
READ ON at http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news/2007/jun.php#shane
2.Claim that GM foods present health risk 'irrefutable'
By Julie-Anne Barnes
Irish Medical News, 30 June 2007
The known health risks of genetically modified (GM) foods present a case that is "overwhelming and irrefutable" and it is now up to the biotech industry to provide rigorous scientific evidence "to show they are not risking the health of the population with food".
Mr Jeffrey M Smith, author of Genetic Roulete made this claim at a recent briefing on food safety and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at the European Parliament Office in Dublin, where he said there are 65 documented health risks from GM foods. Mr Smith said there are now thousands of human beings complaining of toxic or allergic- type reactions from consuming, breathing or even touching GM produce.
"There are numerous ways in which the process of genetic engineering has been shown to create unpredicted side effects and many of the most fundamental assumptions that we use for the basis of safety claims have been truly wrong in the years since these crops were introduced," said Mr Smith.
His presentation coincided with the announcement by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, with responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Mr Trevor Sargent that one of the Green Party’s primary goals is to ensure that Ireland becomes Europe's first 100 per cent GM Free zone.
Mr Sargent said that the effects of GM foods on human health "are largely untested and potentially very dangerous" and "the use of GM animal feed is damaging our world famous clean green reputation as 'Ireland the food island'".
Ms Kathy Sinnott, MEP also addressed the meeting where she said the new government would need to stand up to the European Commission, which refuses to recognize the legal democratic right of member states and local authorities to have the final say on whether GM crops may be grown in their areas. During the course of the meeting Prof David McConnell, Department of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin challenged Mr Michael O'Callaghan, co-ordinator of the GM-Free Ireland Network and Minister Sargent.
He accused Mr O'Callaghan of "impugning" his scientific reputation during the briefing and said what Prof McConnell was arguing was that everybody interested in the GM debate should take scientific advice and that advice should represent the broad community of science "and you should not pin your view to one view or one expectation of scientific outcome".
He added that he found it very unfortunate that people claiming to be interested in science "really don't understand it and that is really quite serious".
Mr O'Callaghan said the notion that GM crops and non-GM crops can co-exist "is like the notion you can have a person with an infectious disease running around in a population where other people will be contaminated". The meeting was also addressed by Dr Ricarda A Steinbrecher, PhD, developmental biologist and geneticist, EcoNexus.
3.Sargent to act quickly on issue of GM-free food
By Sean MacConnell The Irish Times, 27 June 2007 [shortened] http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland/2007/0627/1181771944152.html
The first moves to have Ireland move to where it can claim its food is produced without the aid of GM feed will be made soon by Minister for Food Trevor Sargent.
On his first official engagement as Minister of State for Agriculture with responsibility for food and horticulture, Mr. Sargent said yesterday there was an urgency to move on the GM issue. "I have been getting reports from our markets in Italy and France that they are increasingly moving in the direction of requiring that produce be fed on GM-free feed," he said.
Ireland does not have a clear position in my mind, as yet, on the direction we are going in that regard," he said at the launch of the latest Bridgestone Guide.
"I want to bring together the farming organisations, the food retailers, the grain importers and the people in the Department of Agriculture so we can formulate a strategy in the best interests of the producers and the country."
He said countries which were already able to make this claim were threatening Irish exports and using GM-free status as a marketing tool.
4.Ireland stands up to US pressure on GMOs
GM-free Ireland press release, 28 June 2007
*Ireland, France and Italy abstain in crucial EU vote on GM animal feed
*ICMSA calls for 5-year moratorium on GM crops
DUBLIN - The Irish Government stuck to its new policy goal of protecting this whole island as a GMO-free zone by abandoning its previously agreed intention to legalise a controversial GM maize at a crucial European vote in Brussels on Monday .
The decision to follow the new policy was made after intense negotiations last weekend between Mary Coughlan (the Minister of Agriculture and Food), Mary Harney (Minister for Health and Children), Trevor Sargent (the new Green Minister of Agriculture and Food), and Michael O'Callaghan (Co-ordinator of the GM-free Ireland Network) .
The illegal GM maize, called Herculex RW, is patented by Pioneer / Dow (of Agent Orange fame). It contains DNA from viruses and bacteria, and is modified to resist weedkiller and produce its own insecticide . There are serious concerns about its impacts on animal and human health . Although "deregulated" in the USA, it remains illegal in the EU.
The European Commisison requested member states to retroactively legalise this GM product after the Irish Department of Agriculture and Food failed to stop it from entering the European food chain in April. Up to 5,313 tonnes of maize gluten contaminated by the illegal GM corn have since been placed on the Irish market and sold to farmers as fodder which their livestock transform into meat and dairy produce, creating health risks for livestock and consumers, together with potential legal problems and liability lawsuits for the government, the feed importer, feed compounder, farmers, food retailers and food exporters .
Contaminate first, legislate later
The European Commission's sudden and rapid attempt to legalise Herculex GM maize suggests that the EC is more concerned with neutralizing an illegal GM food contamination scandal, rather than enforcing legal requirements on member states to rigorously test and prevent such contamination in the first place . Monday's vote at the EC Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health was a new case of the "contaminate first, legislate later" strategy favoured by griant transnational agri-biotech corporations determined to genetically modify and patent the world's agricultural seeds so as to control the global food supply .
Following a preliminary "indicative vote" made by EU member states, the EC expected them to provide a Qualified Majority Vote (QMV) in favour of legalising the GM maize for use as animal feed and food (but not for cultivation) on Monday. This would have provided a major PR victory for the US government and the agri-biotech industry, because it would have been the first time that EU member voted to legalise a GM product since 1998. Unless there is a QMV against legalisation, the Commission always automatically rubberstamps GMO approval in the end .
Prior to Monday's vote, the WTO, USA, EC and PR companies employed by the agri-biotech industry exerted huge pressure on the EU member states to vote in favour of placing this GM maize on the market , and have since put pressure on the Irish government to justify its reasons for abstaining. The Irish Grain and Feed Association vigorously lobbied Mary Coughlan, Mary Harney and policy makers in Brussels to vote yes, claiming it was "vital" that this GM maize be approved. A flurry of obvious or subtly pro-GMO stories also appeared in the media .
Irish farmers to the rescue
Last Friday, Trevor Sargent summoned Michael O'Callaghan of GM-free Ireland to negotiations with representatives of Mary Harney and Mary Coughlan, who had made preliminary agreements to legalise the GM maize under the previous governmnent. O'Callaghan provided the representatives with hard scientific evidence about the health risks of GMOs including the book "Genetic Roulette - The documented health risks of genetically engineered foods"  and copies of two scientic papers  on the health risks of GM foods from a recent briefing on the health risk of GM foods at the EU Parliament Office in Dublin .
On Sunday morning, Jackie Cahill of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association  and Malcolm Thompson of the Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers Association  telephoned Mary Coughlan to request her to vote NO.
Trevor Sargent finalised the negotiations in a meeting with Mary Coughlan and Mary Harney on Sunday.
As a result of this collective effort, Ireland abstained from Monday's vote, along with Italy and France, contributing to the lack of a Qualified Majority and thus shattering the biotech industry's expectations of an EU policy U-turn on GM food and feed .
Michael O'Callaghan of GM-free Ireland said "This small victory for Ireland and Europe is significant in the context of EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson's pressure for member states to cave in to WTO's claims that we must accept GM food and farming. We expect Ireland's new government will now take active steps to protect Irish farmers and consumers from the GMO invasion."
Ireland's new policy on GMOs
Trevor Sargent said "Fundamentally the issue is a sustainable future. The huge commercial pressure from the United States and some countries in South America for Europe to open up to GM foods is not what the people of Europe want. The consumers of Europe are specifying to their large mutliple retailers that they want GM-free produce. The trouble is that the markets we're trying to export to ”š particularly in Europe - are adamant: they do not want GM! Up to now they have been saying ëjust make sure it is not grown in Ireland', but now they're saying ëplease don't feed your animals GM feed'. Some of the major supermarkets chains in Italy, France and Britain now actually require labelling that says this produce is fed on GM-free feed. So we have to be able to come up with that and guarantee it. We are at a cross-roads here. We can either go down the road of the Brazilians and have essentially a lower quality product, or else we can continue to make sure we have the high quality product which is going to get us the best price and the best return. So GM is really not any kind of solution to the challenges faced by our farmers, given that the price of their produce, like lamb, have gone down in the past 20 years. The fresh produce people that I'm talking to definitely want GM free. Alot of the farmers in the livestock area definitely want GM-free. The Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers Association, and many of the farmers in the ICMSA and the IFA want GM free. But they also want a national strategy in place to deal with this, and that is what I intend to bring about."
The President of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), Jackie Cahill, has called for a 5 year moratorium on GM crops.
Commenting on Monday's vote, Friends of the Earth Europe GM Campaign Coordinator Helen Holder said:
"Member states have already won the right to uphold high standards on food safety and the environment at the WTO. The US had tried to use trade laws to force GMOs into the European market. But this is a clear signal that Member States have put safety and the environment before US trade interests and that the concerns of EU citizens can prevail over formidable lobbying from biotech companies".
Refering to the illegal Herculex GM maize that entered the EU food chain through Ireland and the Netherlands in April , Helen Holder said "These contamination cases indicate more than ever just how important it is to show zero tolerance to countries that have lax measures on contamination and to ensure the right to GMO-free food and farming in the EU is upheld. There is a critical need for strict laws on growing GM crops and clear rules on who is liable for the costs of GM contamination."
There is still widespread public concern over the loophole in EU legislation that allows for consumers to remain unaware that they are eating meat and dairy products from animals fed with GMOs. Earlier this year one million Europeans called for labelling of foods from GMO-fed animals.
Notes for editors:
 Ireland's abstention contributed to the lack of a Qualified Majority Vote at the EC Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 25 June 2007. The company's authorisation request for Herculex will now be sent an upcoming EU Council meeting on 24 September when Ministers will vote on it a second time.
 GM-free Ireland Network: http://www.gmfreeireland.org
 Herculex Rootworm (RW) 59122 maize has been genetically modified by the introduction of a bacterial gene from Bacillus thuringiensis to produce Bt toxins (Cry34Ab1 and Cry35Ab1) so as to make the crop resistant to the Western corn rootworm insect pest. It is also modified by the introduction of a second bacterial gene from Streptomyces viridochromogenes to make the crop immune to the broad-spectrum herbicide glufosinate. Virus DNA is added as a "promoter" to turn the bacterial genes on. Every cell of the maize becomes a tiny pesticide factory, and the entire plant is classified as an insecticide in the USA.
 For a detailed scientific critique of Herculex GM maize, see "Comments to the application under Regulation 1829/2003 for authorisation of 59122-maize in the European Union" published by Greenpeace, May 2007, available for download at http://www.gmfreeireland.org/feed/documents/herculex/Maize59122Application.pdf (364kb PDF file).
Risk assessments on Herculex submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) by Pioneer/Dow show important differences between animals fed with this GM maize and those fed with conventional maize, including liver weights in females in a 42-day study, and blood parameters following a 90-day rat feeding trial. Effects concerning the blood parameters in the 90-day feeding trial were noticed after a very short time, indicating potential for toxicity in the longer term. In other words, this GM maize could pose risks for human and animal health. Worryingly, EFSA did not look at these results in any detail: [ EFSA 2007. Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms on an application (Reference EFSA-GMO-NL-2005-12) for the placing on the market of insect-resistant genetically modified maize 59122, for food and feed uses, import and processing under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, from Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. and Mycogen Seeds, c/o Dow Agrosciences LLC. (Question No EFSA-Q-2005-045) Opinion adopted on 23 March 2007. The EFSA Journal (2007) 470, 1-25 ].
Friends of the Earth Europe said the the risk assessment was incomplete and failed to act on key evidence which raised the possibility that this GM maize could pose risks for human and animal health.
EFSA has in the past dismissed similar concerns in positive opinions issued on MON863 and NK603 maize, leading to final authorization by the European Commission of these products. But the reliability of these EFSA opinions has been undermined by recent studies by independent scientists showing toxicological effects in both MON863 and NK603 which the EFSA failed to appreciate. EFSA's failures to exert due diligence in GMO risk assessments was raised by Michael O'Callaghan and by Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher in her review of the CRIIGEN paper (see note 13 below) at the briefing on Food Safety and GMOs co-hosted by GM-free Ireland and the EU Parliament Independence/Democracy Group at the EU Parliament Office in Dublin on 15 June 2007.
Compositional differences were also detected in the content of the Herculex GM maize and its kernels.
Despite additional serious concerns that all Bt crops are harmful for non-target organisms including beneficial soil bacteria, wildlife, livestock and humans, there have been virtually no independent analyses on the impact of Bt crops on biodiversity. EFSA has, yet again, ignored this in its Opinion on Herculex GM maize.
EFSA's failure to implement due diligence in its approvals of GMO feed and food has been criticised by the European Council, by the Commission and by NGOs, which have accused EFSA of ignoring significant scientific findings and for being unable to perform long-term environmental and health impact assessments on GMOs.
For details see:
The MON863 case: a chronicle of systematic deception: Greenpeace report, 13 August 2002:
The EFSA stakeholders challenge ”š working with civil society:
European Food Safety Authority criticised for GMO bias: ISIS press release, 27 April 2006:
Commission proposes practical improvements to the way the European GMO legislative framework is implemented. Europa Press Release, 12 April 2006:
European Commissioner Dimas speech at the Conference on GMO co-existence Vienna, 05 April 2006:
EU law on the standards and legal requirements for GMO risk assessment is not being respected at present by either EFSA or the European Commission. This could be rectified by:
a. Enforcing a strict, independent and transparent risk assessment of GMOs;
b. Suspending all earlier authorisations until the current system is reviewed;
c. Withdrawing the authorisation granted to MON863 maize, pending further investigation and a re-evaluation of Monsanto's dossier.
 GM-free Ireland and Greenpeace found a shipment of animal feed contaminated by the illegal Herculex and other varieties of GM maize being unloaded from a ship which arrived in Dublin port from New Orleans on 2 April. The shipment was accompanied by US lab certificates which claimed the maize gluten was free of Herculex. The Department of Agriculture waited 60 days before taking action, by which time up to 5,313 tonnes of the maize gluten contaminated by the illegal GM corn had already been placed on the market and sold to farmers as fodder which their cattle transform into meat and dairy produce. For details see http://www.gmfreeireland.org/pakrac and download GM-free Ireland press release "Irish GM food contamination scandal" at http://www.gmfreeireland.org/press/GMFI-36.pdf
95% of the soya and maize currently imported into Ireland for use as animal feed is genetically modified.
 The Irish Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan, issued a written statement to the D*il [Irish parliament] in December 2006, claiming that "since April 2004 all feed imports have been subjected to inspection for accuracy of GM labelling and very high levels of compliance have been detected". On 3 May 2007, her Department issued a written statement to GM-free Ireland, claiming that authorised officers from the Department of Agriculture and Food "take samples of all potential GM feed imports, such as soya, maize and OSR [oilseed rape] which are not declared as consisting of or containing GM ingredients and have them analysed for the presence of GM material". But on 18 May 2007, the Department admitted that it failed to test the shipment of maize gluten contaminated by the illegal Herculex GM maize which entered Ireland on 2 April before it was placed on the market.
Moreover, Liam Hyde of the Department's Animal Feedingstuffs Section admitted that imported animal feed is only tested for GM content on a random basis, adding that he was "unaware" of the scientific report that MON863 causes organ damage to laboratory animals. Mr. Hyde also said that all of the Department of Agriculture's records of GM animal feed imports for 2006 have been irretrievably lost due to a "computer database failure" making traceability and liability impossible in the event of related disease in livestock and the human population. (Personal communication from Mr. Hyde by phone to Michael O'Callaghan of GM-free Ireland, around 28 March 2007).
 As of 2005, worldwide, 10 companies controlled about 50 percent of the global seed business. At the top of the heap are just three companies, Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta. Industry concentration is continuing to proceed apace. Monsanto has since received US antitrust approval to complete its merger with the 11th largest seed company, Delta Pine & Land. All three companies have been snapping up smaller firms at every opportunity.
: If EU ministers cannot agree, the European Commission usually issues its own approval, valid for 10 years, under an undemocratic legal default process known as the Comitology procedure. For many years, EU countries have been unable to secure the majority needed to vote through a new GMO approval. They last agreed to authorise a new GMO product in 1998.
 European Commission documents show US pressure to ignore risk assessment concerns and push GMOs ”š including this GM Maize 'Herculex' of biotech company Pioneer ”š onto the European market. For details, see the minutes of a meeting between the EU and the US obtained by Friends of the Earth Europe under a Freedom of Information request: http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2007/May30_HH_EU_US_docs.htm http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2007/FoEE_GMOS_US_pressure_on_EU_brief_May07.pdf
 Recent media coverage of GMOs:
*GM crops: 'Point of no return in ten years'. The Scotsman, 26 June 2007. By Sybille de la Hamaide.
*GMO stance hitting feed trade. Irish Farmers Journal, 23 June 2007. By Pat O'Keefe, News Editor.
*Wall defends role in GMO's. Irish Farmers Journal, 23 June 2007. By Pat O'Keefe, News Editor.
*GM-free cost up to â‚¬ 40m. Irish Examiner, 21 June 2007. By Stephen Cadogan.
*Sargent says GMO-free pledge is a 'huge step'. The Irish Times, 16 June 2007. By Ronan McGreevy.
*Greens fulfill pledge to have Ireland free of GM crops. Irish Independent, 16 June 2007. By Fionnan Sheahan and Senan Molony.
*EU Risks WTO Cases Over Biotech Food, Mandelson Says. Bloomberg, June 14 2007. By Jonathan Stearns.
*Stand by science on GMO foods, EU trade chief says. Reuters, 14 June 2007.
*Ireland aims to become a GMO-free zone: New coalition government adopts all-island GM-free policy; Farming groups agree to explore phasing out GM animal feed. GM-free Ireland Network press release, 14 June 2007.
*EU Split Over Approvals Of Two GMO Maize Types. Reuters, 11 June 2007.
*Monsanto Warns It May Withdraw From Wheat-Seed Market. Business Day (Johannesburg), 7 June 2007. By Neels Blom.
*Don't mention the G word. The Guardian (Eco soundings), June 6 2007. By John Vidal and David Adam.
*US still bullying EU to market GMOs - But avoid the dirty GMO word! advises US official. Friends of the Earth Europe press release, 30 May 2007.
 Genetic Roulette: the documented health risks of GM foods. By Jeffrey M. Smith. Yes! Books. Fairfield, Iowa, USA, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9729665-2-8. Hardcover, 336 pages, â‚¬ 23. Available at the Cultivate Centre, 15-19 Essex St. West, Temple Bar, Dublin 8, tel (01) 674 6415 or by mailorder from http://www.GeneticRoulette.com.
 New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity, Journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. Publisher Springer New York. ISSN 0090-4341 (Print) 1432-0703 (Online). DOI 10.1007/s00244-006-0149-5. By Gilles-Eric SÃˆralini, Dominique Cellier, and Joel Spiroux de Vendomois. Download paper: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/health/SeralinPaper2007.pdf (124k pdf file.]
Genome Scrambling - Myth or Reality? Transformation-Induced Mutations in Transgenic Crop Plants. By Allison Wilson, PhD, Jonathan Latham, PhD and Ricarda Steinbrecher, PhD. Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews, Vol 23, December 2006.
Download Summary: http://www.econexus.info/pdf/ENx-Genome-Scrambling-Summary.pdf (88 kb pdf file) Download Report: http://www.econexus.info/pdf/ENx-Genome-Scrambling-Report.pdf (628 kb pdf file)
 Food Safety and GMOs: is the European Food Safety Authority downplaying the health risks of genetically modified food? Briefing co-hosted by the European Parliament Independence/Democracy Group and the GM-free Ireland Network, EU Parliament Office, Dublin, 15 June 2007. Speakers included Kathy Sinnott MEP, Jeffrey Smith (who will launch his new book Genetic Roulette: the documented health risks of GM foods), and Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher PhD of EcoNexus, who is part of the legal and scientific team which recently convinced the European Patent Office to revoke Monsanto's species-wide patent on genetically modified soybeans. For details see http://www.gmfreeireland.org/EUP.php
 Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association, http://www.icmsa.ie.
 Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers Association, http://www.icsaireland.ie. For details of the ICSA policy on GMOs, see transcript of speech by ICSA General Secretary Eddie Punch at the Green Ireland conference on branding for food, farming and ecotourism, June 2006: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/conference/trans/E.Punch.pdf
 The outcome of the vote was 15 countries in favour (197 votes), 7 against (52 votes), 4 abstentions + Poland absent (96 votes). The votes needed to block the decision was 91.
 Announced by Greenpeace and GM-free Ireland. See GM-free Ireland press release http://www.gmfreeireland.org/pakrac/index.php
GM-free Ireland Network
Tel + 353 (0)404 43885
mobile: + 353 (0)87 799 4761