January 8, 2021
“Government must protect Irish food producers” – MacManus raises concerns as Britain begins divergence on food standards

“Government must protect Irish food producers” – MacManus raises concerns as Britain begins divergence on food standards

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest Chris MacManus has flagged Britain’s first attempt to move away from applying EU food standards. MEP McManus commented:

“We are not even in the second week of January and Britian is already indicating it will be scrapping EU food standards. The decision by Britain’s Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs to open a consultation on gene editing is a clear indication that food production rules will be changing.” 

“Gene editing is commonly referred to as GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. It involves changing the properties of a plant to make it more resistant to things like pests. Due to food safety concerns, food produced using GMO plants is highly restricted in the EU.”

The Midlands Northwest MEP highlighted where the British standards would diverge. “What Britain intends to do is remove any restriction on GMO plants where the hybrid plant, even if it was created in a lab, could technically have been created through natural breeding methods. This differs from the opinion of the European Court of Justice, which does not recognise such a distinction in types of GMOs.”

“In terms of who has the correct approach is not my primary concern here, as long as it is based on reliable science, the issue is Britain may very soon be producing or importing food which was created using methods not authorised in the EU.”

MacManus warned of knock-on effects for Irish producers. “Any costs savings gained, through using this technology in production, will allow these companies to lower prices, to the determent of EU food producers like Ireland.”

“I fear for Irish tillage farmers who may overnight become uncompetitive on Britain  supermarket shelves.”

“Britain’s decision to do this does not impact the trade deal because it will not be exporting these GMO produced foods to the EU market, therefore it will not face trade repercussions.”

“This measure will likely be followed by others, which pose a huge risk to the Irish farmer’s market share in Britian’s supermarkets.”

The Sinn Féin MEP concluded by calling on government to implement supports. “The Irish Government must stand ready to support our family farmers in the event of significant disruption to export volumes from Ireland to Britain.”  ENDS

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