Another EU member state joins the anti-GMOs movement. Northern Ireland just announced its ban of genetically modified crops after the country's environment minister expressed his concern that GMOs "would tarnish the nation's 'clean and green image.'"
Joining Wales, Scotland, Germany, France, Greece and Latvia, Northern Ireland's decision came on its own under the new EU opt-out regulations. Each of the 28 member states' has the opportunity to adopt their own positions on GMOs, while each regional assembly within the UK can decide whether to grow approved GM crops within their territories.
"I remain unconvinced of the advantages of GM crops and I consider it prudent to prohibit their cultivation here for the foreseeable future," Mark H. Durkan, environment minister, said. "The pattern of land use here and the relatively small size of many agricultural holdings creates potential difficulties if we were to seek to keep GM and non-GM crops separate."
Northern Ireland, a leading grower of grains, potatoes and hay, according to the 2014 agricultural census, confirmed the ban was also based on marketing.
"We are perceived internationally to have a clean and green image," he told the BBC. "I am concerned that the growing of GM crops, which I acknowledge is controversial, could potentially damage that image."
The country, which is populated by 1.8 million humans, 1.5 million cows, nearly 2 million sheep and 20 million chickens, according to EcoWatch, is a leading grower of grains, potatoes and hay and pasture as confirmed by the 2014 agricultural census. Therefore, Northern Ireland believes it is "too small to safely grow GMO crops without them cross-pollinating with non-GMO ones," according to the website Take Part.
While Durkan confirmed this statement during an interview with the BBC, activists are praising the environment minister for his decision to make Northern Ireland another EU nation that has banned the planting of GMO crops.