GM Potatoes

Dear Editor - Recent events in banking and building sectors in Ireland show that these systems were incapable of dealing with their internal flaws.

Dear Editor - Recent events in banking and building sectors in Ireland show that these systems were incapable of dealing with their internal flaws.

Hopefully our little country will recover from the ravages caused by those flaws – eventually.

Not so with the GM potatoes Teagasc are planning to grow in Carlow. Once these GM potatoes grow in fields their pollen and seed are spread as pollen and seed do – uncontrollably. GM stands for genetic modification which is done by genetic engineering, something that isn’t possible outside a laboratory. Universally, science accepts that GM plants produce unpredictable effects.

So pollen and seed from these GM potatoes in Carlow will spread their engineered genes. Once spread, they cannot be recalled, EVER, because every year they’re busily producing the next generation. Spuds complicate the issue because their tubers can develop new plants too, given the right conditions. Remember it took over 20 years for the bad effects of DDT to become obvious – and DDT wasn’t meanwhile reproducing offspring all over the place. The ban on DDT stopped more DDT being used; a ban on GM crops when its damage becomes obvious, will not affect all the GM plants already out there in the fields merrily reproducing themselves.

Teagasc says is will have a 40 metre exclusion zone in which other potato crops will not be grown. Teagasc says this segregation distance does away with what they call ‘admixture’, and what I call GM gene contamination (with those unpredictable effects, remember).

Research in France in 1999 on bee pollen samples showed all bees in the study had potato pollen and one bee’s pollen load was predominantly potato flower. Will Teagasc have a big sign that says BEE EXCLUSION ZONE for those Carlow bees? Written in large letters that’s visible to bees? Or has someone done a study on whether bees in Carlow can read?

It seems Teagasc needs to go back to the drawing board on its GM potato research plans. Irish bees and the Irish people do not need people tricking around with the basics of life, especially when they don’t seem to know even the basics about the birds and the bees.

That wordy witty and great Irishman, GB Shaw, said “Good teachers are those who know how little they know. Bad teachers are those who think they know more than they don’t know. Ironically one translation of the word ‘teagasc’ is ‘teacher’.

Stella Coffey

Cahir