Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ceisteanna (65)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

65. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the future production and regulation of genetically modified foods here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41606/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Responsibility for the deliberate release, use of feed and food and the labelling and traceability of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is divided between a number of Departments and their Agencies. Generally, responsibility for issues relating to the cultivation of GM crops rests with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE), while the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) is responsible for GM animal feed and the coexistence of authorised GM crops alongside non-GM crops. The Department of Health’s remit relates to the safety of GM food.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) has responsibility for policy matters in relation to EU Directives on the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment and the contained use of GMOs. It regulates the cultivation and field trials, of any EU-authorised GM crops. The Environmental Protection Agency advises DCCAE and is responsible for the implementation of Government policy in this area. In 2018, DCCAE obtained Cabinet approval to prohibit or restrict the cultivation of GM crops in Ireland, enabling Ireland to opt out of the cultivation of GMO crops approved for cultivation elsewhere in the EU.

DAFM is responsible for GM animal feeds, the coexistence of authorised GM crops alongside non-GM crops and the seed certification related to GM products. DAFM’s sole responsibility in relation to the deliberate release of GM crops relates to the implementation of coexistence measures in the event that commercial GM crops are authorised for cultivation alongside conventional crops. DAFM has advised that there is only one GM crop authorised for cultivation in the EU, namely GM maize ‘MON 810’, which is mainly grown in Spain for animal feed. MON 810 is not suited for cultivation in Ireland.

The Department of Health’s remit in this area relates to policy on the safety of food. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) provides scientific and technical advice; it is the Competent Authority responsible for the implementation of GM food legislation in Ireland. Under Regulation (EC) No. 1829/2003, only EU-authorised GM foods may be placed on the market in Ireland. Stringent traceability and labelling rules must be observed for the marketing of these foods. The FSAI coordinates annual checks to ensure that any authorised GM foods present on the Irish market are labelled as required. There is no indication at present that EU legislation related to GM foods will change in the immediate future.

GM crops, food and feed are subject to a comprehensive risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and subsequent regulatory votes by Member States before they are authorised for use in the EU. The risk assessment is designed to ensure GM crops and GM food and feed do not pose a risk to human health, animal health and the environment.