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Environmentalists Urge UK to Keep Northern Ireland GE Free

Environmentalists Urge UK to Keep
Northern Ireland GE Free

Irish News
December 15, 2001

Keep the north GM free, minister is urged;

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH yesterday urged Agriculture and Rural
Development Minister Brid Rodgers to seize the opportunity to keep
Northern Ireland GM free.

In a meeting with the minister to discuss the Vision report, the
environmental group also stressed the importance of developing
policies that encourage production of food for local use, and
increasing organic farming levels. Lisa Fagan of Friends of the Earth
said: "We are asking the minister to listen to public concerns about
GM food, and to declare Northern Ireland a GMfree zone.

"Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK and Ireland
which is free of GM crops, and we have the unique potential to grow
uncontaminated food for both home and export markets."

The group also wants the minister to make a commitment to increase
organic production to at least the 10 per cent target recently
announced for England.

"Consumer demand for organic food has grown to a level that far
outstrips supply throughout the UK and Ireland, " Ms Fagan said.

"Organic food is no longer a niche market - the huge growth in demand
over the last few years means organic farming has a major part to play
in the future of agriculture."

Development of local food chains from farmer to consumer was also high
on the agenda at yesterday's meeting.

"Growing local food for local needs makes sense, " Ms Fagan said.

"The benefits are enormous - boosting jobs in local production,
processing and retailing, and cutting down on 'food miles'."

Friends of the Earth also urged Mrs Rodgers to ensure that farmers
would get a fairer deal. The environmental group said the Vision
report did not address the issue of the supermarket 'armlock' and said
regulation of the way supermarkets do their business was essential for
farmers to stay afloat.

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