Irish modified beet trials get go-ahead

Decision welcomed by Monsanto, slammed by environmental groups

The Irish authorities yesterday authorised biotechnology multinational Monsanto to undertake a second series of trials of genetically modified sugar beet in the country, after last year's trials were destroyed by saboteurs (ENDS Daily 30 September 1997). In a statement, the Environmental Protection Agency said that it had assessed the potential risks of the project and the more than 3,000 submissions it received during a consultation period and was "satisfied" that the trials would "pose no threat to human health or the environment". Monsanto welcomed the decision. It said that a sugar beet resistant to the Roundup herbicide - which is also manufactured by the firm - would now be grown at five locations in Ireland to assess quality and yield. "We can assure the Irish public that there is no risk to the environment and that genetic engineering has a 25-year record of safety and achievement," the company added. Environmental groups slammed the government's decision to approve the Monsanto trials and accused the governing Fiana Fáil party of reneging on a pre-election statement supporting the idea of a moratorium on all releases of genetically modified organisms to the environment and the use of modified ingredients in foods.

Follow Up:
Irish Environmental Protection Agency, tel: +353 53 47120; Monsanto Ireland, tel: +353 1 276 1720.

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