Northern Ireland

OFMDFM has called for review of GM crops decision

OFMDFM calls on Environment minister to review his decision to ban the growing of GM crops in Northern Ireland Image copyright PA
Image caption OFMDFM has called for a review of decision to ban GM crops in Northern Ireland

The environment minister has been urged to review his decision to ban the growing of GM crops in Northern Ireland.

The call came in a letter from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).

Mark H Durkan announced the ban last month.

It followed a decision by the European Commission to let member states and regions make their own decisions over what to do about GM crops.

Mr Durkan said he had made the decision to protect Northern Ireland's reputation as "a clean, green place to produce food".

It is understood OFMDFM called for a review because it believed the decision was one of strategic importance, which merited Executive approval.

A deadline imposed by Europe on when the decision should be taken has now expired.

There are no meetings of the Executive at the moment due to the current impasse at Stormont.

While no GM crops are being grown commercially in the UK, imported GM commodities, especially soya, are being used for animal feed, and to a lesser extent in some food products.

Controversial

Mr Durkan said the relatively small size of farms in Northern Ireland "could create potential difficulties, if we were to seek to keep GM and non-GM crops separate".

He said the costs of maintaining separateness could be expensive and impractical.

"Also, we are rightly proud of our natural environment and rich biodiversity," he said.

"We are perceived internationally to have a clean and green image. I am concerned that the growing of GM crops, which I acknowledge is controversial, could potentially damage that image."

A spokesperson for the DOE said: "The matter is under consideration but since this is Executive business, no further comment can be made."

In a statement, an OFMDFM spokesperson said: "All cross cutting decisions are significant matters which require agreement on a common position by the executive.

"The ministers have, therefore, determined that this is a matter which should be considered by the Executive, in accordance with paragraph 2.4(vi) of the ministerial code, and have advised minister Durkan accordingly."

More on this story