Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (91)

Billy Timmins

Question:

204 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children his policy with respect to GM foods; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29248/03]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

The EU now has one of the most rigorous regimes for the pre-marketing assessment of GMOs as well as food and feed derived from GMOs. Under current EU laws and new EU legislation to come into force in April 2004, only GM foods that satisfy the highest standards of safety will be allowed on the market. In the event of a problem being identified with a GM food provisions allow for its temporary or long-term removal from the marketplace.

Ireland applies EU legislation on genetically modified, GM, foods and, at present, has no additional national legislation. Under EU rules, only authorised GM foods or ingredients can be placed on the market and these foods must be labelled appropriately to allow consumers to choose. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland, FSAI, is the competent authority in Ireland for the enforcement of legislation governing GM food and carries out regular checks of the marketplace to ensure compliance with GM food legislation.

Under new legislation the safety assessment of all GM products will be carried out by the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, a new independent agency set up specifically for this purpose. Once a GM food is authorised new legislation on traceability and labelling will ensure full traceability of GMOs throughout the chain from farm to table providing consumers with comprehensive information by labelling all food and feed consisting of, containing, or produced from, a GMO.

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. No credible evidence has yet been provided to show that GM foods pose a risk to human health; in addition, measures to allow post-release monitoring of GM foods are provided for in the legislation.

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.