*** POST UPDATE: 29th April ’10
Another email that came in a while ago and I almost missed…
Thank you to my source for this. I hadn’t realised, nor bothered to check the seed savers website since…. That aside this is the information I got. The wierd apology to Trevor Sargeant post was posted on my weblog in December. The email maybe was aptly titled odd end for head of anti-GM group in Ireland. I’m inclined to agree.
courtesy of the Irish Seed Savers website (who btw have removed your comment regarding that weird apology to Trevor Sargent) it can be seen that the head of GM-Free Ireland (who recently has a joint press event with Richard Corrigan at his restaurant) is quitting and moving to Geneva. Claims below he was even unable to organize seven people to form a committee (while at the same time claiming his group represents over 1 million people). Also a real classy analogy of GM policy with slavery and the Holocaust…..nice! (not)
I’ll put this entire article [straight from their website] in – just in case it is deleted. To be honest, I wish they would stick to saving seeds and leave it at that. The [main] bit that gets on my goat is the paragraph in red.
Date: 1 April 2010
After 7 years co-ordinating the GM-free Ireland campaign, I will be moving permanently to Geneva on 6 April to resume my Global Vision projects. I recommend Catherine Devitt to replace me as co-ordinator (see below).
My heartfelt thanks to all of you who helped make this campaign possible so far. Keep up the good work, and look me up if every you are in Geneva.
Good luck to you Michael.
WHAT WE ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR
Thanks to our collective efforts we:
- 2003: Launched the GM-free Ireland web site featuring daily international media coverage of GM issues and more. The site has since attracted millions of hits – including 1.2 million hits and almost 100,000 visits in the past year alone.
- 2004: Created the GM-free Ireland Network which has since grown to include 131 institutional members representing the greatest number and broadest diversity of stakeholders of any NGO on the island of Ireland.
- 2005: Declared over 1,000 GMO-free zones including 18 Local Authorities in the Republic and Northern Ireland, representing over 1 million citizens.
- 2006: Prevented the world’s largest chemicals company BASF from releasing 250,000 GMO potatoes in Co. Meath in 2006. We also organised the Green Ireland Conference at Kilkenny Castle with leading GM experts from around the world.
- 2007: Caused EU-wide embargo on US animal feed imports after we discovered illegal GM feed entering EU through Dublin port. Persuaded Government to stop approving new GM crops, feed and food in the EU and to adopt new policy to seek to declare the island of Ireland as a GM-free crop zone.
- 2008: Exposed Canada’s covert interference in Irish and UK policy making. Lobbied Government to introduce voluntary GM-free label for animal produce. Lobbied the Commission and EFSA to introduce credible GMO risk assesments based on scientific peer review. Produced a strategic video interview with the former chair of EFSA, Prof Patrick Wall: We cannot force-feed EU citizens with GM food.
- 2009: Secured new Government policy to (a) ban field trials and cultivation of all GM crops in the Republic, and (b) introduce a voluntary GM-free label to inform consumer choice and enable our farmers and food sectors to compete in the EU’s rapidly growing market for GM-free meat, fish and dairy produce. Represented Ireland at Food and Democracy – the 5th European Conference on GMO-free Regions. Also published briefing / market survey / video:GM-free production, a unique selling point for Ireland – the food island.
- 2010: Brought an Irish delegation to the third European conference Non-GMO labels, Quality Production and European Regional Agriculture Strategies, organised by the European GMO-free Regions Network and the EU Committee of the Regions in Brussels.
- THROUGHOUT: Strategy co-ordination, community meetings, film screenings, workshops, seminars, expert briefings, and press conferences. Participation in Joint Oireachtas Committee meetings; ministerial meetings; lobbying Councillors, TDs, Senators and MEPs: communicating related national, EU and global developments via website and email.
Despite three years in office, our current Government has still not implemented its GM-free policies with any legislation. From a European perspective, it’s obvious that Ireland systematically misses most of the opportunities for progress which the other Member States keep taking on this issue. Fine Gael aparently believes all the GM propaganda and intends to reverse the policy if it wins the next election
This is particularly worrying since the new Barroso Commission is determined to weaken EFSA’s GMO risk assessment process, and has proposed a new WTO deal to fast-track the approval of new GM crops. The EC aims to divide and conquer the Member States’ resistance by allowing countries to establish crop-specific bans – in exchange for ending the “zero tolerance” food safety policy that protects our food chain from contamination with unapproved GMOs. This move would enable new GM crops to be commercialy grown in five or six EU countries this year or next. Together with hundreds of field trials currently underway, it would effectively let the GM genie out of its bottle and end up contaminating Irish crops in perpetuity. If we let this happen, the EC will destroy Ireland’s untapped opportunity to secure a unique and extraordinarily lucrative competitive advantage – the most credible safe GM-free food brand in Europe.
The irony is that apart from ICSA, Slow Food Ireland, Euro-Toques, IOFGA and the Organic Trust, all the other organisations that claim to represent the interests of our farm and food communities – Bord Bia, Teagasc, IFA, ICMSA, the Irish Farmers Journal, the Irish Farmers Monthly – along with Fine Gael and most of our universities and media, remain Monsanto’s most vocal propagandists in this country. Can you imagine African people volunteering to board the slave ships to America, or Jews recruiting their families for the train rides to Auschwitz? Yet we Paddies lap up the biotech industry’s propaganda like pints of porter in the pub.
WHAT WE STILL NEED TO DO
We need to keep lobbying the Government and building public awareness until we secure legislation to prohibit all field trials and cultivation of GM crops and to define standards for the voluntary GM-free label. We also need to ensure that the Northern Ireland Assembly does likewise, at least by banning GM crops.
It is now up to you – the 131 institutional members of the GM-free Ireland Network – to take responsibility to achieve these goals.
This requires a co-ordinated strategy and in-depth understanding of the related scientific, health, agronomic, environmental, social, economic, food security and political issues.
I cannot over-emphasise the need for a campaign co-ordinator to hold our campaign together. This is a full-time job involving stakeholder liaison, consumer enquiries, graphic design, website management, fund-raising, public awareness, media outreach, participation in related international conferences, and political lobbying in Dublin and Brussels. This person should be multi-skilled, competent, balsy, pro-active, independent, without ties (or apparent ties) to any particular conventional or organic stakeholder group or to any political party, and be trusted with carte blanche to act on your collective behalf. Our strength lies in our diversity – remember we have by far the greatest number and broadest diversity of stakeholders of any NGO on the island of Ireland! If you were really determined to achieve a final victory, the campaign would require a full-time staff of five or six people to liaise with key stakeholders including consumers, retailers, farmers and food producers, the hospitality industry, local authorities, government and the EC.
In 2008 I proposed that we set up a registered charity to (a) employ and train someone to replace me as co-ordinator, (b) continue funding our networking / public awareness work, and (c) raise funds to hire additional staff. Forming a registered charity in Ireland requires 7 trustees or directors whose minimum commitment is to attend an AGM once a year. They can then open a bank account, and employ others to get on with the job. I found 6 people from our key stakeholder groups who said they were willing to serve (in their personal capacities) on this board of directors, and identified 1 other good prospect. But unfortunately in 2009, one of them took it upon herself to organise a series of meetings with the others from which I was excluded. They then abandoned our plan to form the charity, and proposed instead to form a GM-free business alliance that, so far, has failed to materialise.
We Irish seem to have a cultural inability to collaborate towards common goals. Many of us fear sticking our head above the parapet, and fail to understand that democracy requires engaged citizens. That’s one reason why I am looking forward to living in Switzerland, where direct democracy ensures a moratorium on GM crops and a GM animal feed-free food chain.
I recommend Catherine Devitt to replace me. She is a young independent social research consultant with a first class honours masters degree in sociology from UCD. Her thesis focussed on Ireland’s organic farming movement. She has collaborated on various projects with UCD, Teagasc, Irish Aid, Transition Towns Ireland, An Tairseach ecology centre, and Grow it Yourself Ireland. She has a keen interest in urban agriculture and has been involved in GM-free Ireland since its inception, helping our successful campaign against the introduction of BASF’s GM potatoes in 2006. She can be reached on
Catherine would require a salary + expenses to take on this job in collaboration with interested and committed individuals. She is willing, in the meantime, to donate a few hours per week as a contact person for the network.
**** POST UPDATE 29th April 2010:
- I put this out on twitter to see if I could get a response
- In fairness… Dan Boyle replied. The first to do so…
- I replied…
- And in fairness to Dan he replied back…
- So I passed the notes on. This is the response I got….
in regards to Dan Boyle not knowing who the Green Party person is, it is clearly written on the GLOBAL VISION website that their director is Neil McCann who ran for the Greens on several occasions.
Also whatever happened the money collected by GMFREEIreland?…..no accounts were ever published and the company collecting the money since 2008 didn’t actually exist? Did An Taisce keep the cash they collected?
In addition, Dan Boyle might want to explain how Global Vision got Irish Government contracts and why the Irish Government are listed as a client on the website of the company? Also did Michael O’Callaghen ever give donations to the Green party? Has he actually skipped the country to Switzerland?
*note this is not a dig at Dan Boyle. I like the guy personally. Twice or more I have asked his time and got. Twice he was the only one to stand up. In the context of the original piece and his [via online] repsonses were going in anyway. That said, A Source decided to respond further to.