Breen questions Agriculture Minister on Cattle Permits, Export Refunds and Genetically Modified Products.

November 13th, 2009 - Pat Breen

Parliamentary Question No.1020

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will instruct his officials to issue cattle movement permits from restricted holdings by email or fax to the relevant meat factories; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Pat Breen.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2009.

Ref No: 38275/09 Proof: 1189

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Brendan Smith)
Under Article 19 (1)(a)(ii) of the Bovine Tuberculosis Order 1989, an animal cannot be moved out of a restricted herd into a slaughter premises unless at the time of its entry it is accompanied by a movement permit. Movement permits are issued at the discretion of a Veterinary Inspector or an Authorised Officer. The current arrangements are such that these permits cannot be authorised electronically. I should point out, however, that the permits can be posted out to herdowners, thereby obviating the need for herdowners to travel to the DVO. The Department is at present examining the practicalities involved in issuing movement permits electronically, taking account of legal considerations, including verification of permits.

Parliamentary Question Nos. 1066/1067

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on introducing a new
Variety of genetically modified food products to Ireland particularly soya from North America; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Pat Breen

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 3rd November 2009.

Ref No: 39132/09 Proof: 1244
To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will report on the recent EU Agricultural Council meeting; if the issue of genetically modified foods, particularly the new variety of soya, was discussed at same; if Ireland voted on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Pat Breen.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2009.

Ref No: 39131/09 Proof 1243

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Brendan Smith)

I propose taking Parliamentary Question Nos. 1066 and 1067 together.

The rules governing the marketing and use of food and animal feed consisting of or containing genetically modified organisms within the Community are set down in EU legislation that has been jointly adopted by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. This legislation is binding on all Member States. In Ireland responsibility for the rules governing food rests with my colleagues in the Department of Health and Children while my Department has responsibility for the rules governing animal feed.

A very significant proportion of the protein diet for Irish livestock and poultry is derived from maize and soya crops and given that the availability of these crops to Irish importers is largely from genetically modified varieties it is inevitable that such crops would form part of animal feed diets. I am satisfied with the inclusion of such crops in animal feed diets once the varieties have been authorised in accordance with the aforementioned EU legislation. A central part of that legislation is the confirmation by the European Food Safety Authority that such genetically modified products are unlikely to have any adverse effects on human or animal health or the environment in the context of its intended use and that the GM products from which they are derived are as safe as their conventional counterparts.

At present there are no GM food/feed soya proposals awaiting Council of Ministers consideration for authorisation but three GM maize proposals were considered at the last Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting on 19 October. Since there was neither a qualified majority vote for or against the proposals, the proposals will now revert back to the EU Commission for a decision. Based on past experience the EU Commission is likely to authorise these events. Ireland abstained on the three votes. Parliamentary Question No. 1068

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will seek export refunds of meat products originating from the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Pat Breen.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2009.

Ref No: 39133/09

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Brendan Smith)

An export refund is a subsidy paid to exporters of products from the EU to certain third countries. Export refunds vary in time by product sector and by the individual product.

In the case of meat, export refunds at present apply to certain beef and poultry products. They do not apply for sheepmeat, while pigmeat refunds only apply for processed products. I have called for their extension to fresh and frozen pigmeat. I have been supported by a number of like-minded Member States but to date the European Commission has not responded positively. I will continue to pursue the issue to help alleviate the current problems in the pigmeat market.