Tuesday, 22 November 2022
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters (Resumed)
I join the Cathaoirleach in welcoming the women that are in today, particularly sitting councillors from the women's caucus. They are welcome to Leinster House. It is great to see them; we do not see enough of them. As I said earlier in the dining room, I look forward to many of them competing in the next elections, be they Dáil or Seanad elections. We can have the women's caucus and other groups but it is important that we bring them into the centre of politics and into elections.
I asked the Minister to make a statement on the inclusion of genetically-modified, GM, ingredients used in animal feedstuff used for sheep, cattle and poultry and if the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine would confirm the level of GM foodstuffs in the agricultural sector. That was somewhat modified by the Commencement Matterbefore us. Genetically-modified food is a big issue; it is a controversial one for some. It was initially brought to my attention by the Irish Rural Association. I will read a post from its Facebook page because it is the kernel of the issue, "So now we are asking for a bit of help from you all out there who may use animal feedstuff in bags for cattle, sheep, hens, etc. Have you actually read the label?" On close examination, many of the feeds have a label that states, "Produced from genetically-modified soya beans... Does that bother anyone?" It raises the questions, should we know more about it? Is the labelling clear enough, is it big enough? Are people aware of it? It goes on to state, "As for GM foods and crops, the hypocrisy on the part of both Ireland and EU is stunning. While we pat ourselves on the back for banning the growing of GM crops, we import GM corn and soya by the millions of tonnes".How do Bord Bia, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine square the circle in terms of the export of Irish beef when on average the contents of a bag of winter feed for beef consists of 94% of genetically modified, GM, corn, soya and alfalfa. That is the kernel of the issue and we need more education about it. It is not banned but we need greater labelling. I am more interested to know how the Department quantifies the amount. Does it keep a record of the amount because that is really important? What is going on in terms of Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Bord Bia on the monitoring of GM food and GM foodstuffs?