Legal challenge sought over first genetically modified potatoes

blight potatoes
Image caption The legal challenge is over a decision to allow the first trial of a genetically modified potato crop

A group of campaigners and farmers in the Irish Republic are seeking a legal challenge over a decision to allow the first trial of a genetically modified potato crop.

In July, the Republic's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the go ahead for a genetically modified blight-resistant potato crop to be tested on lands in County Carlow.

The group is seeking approval from Dublin's High Court to take a legal case on the basis of the provisions of the Arhaus Convention, which was ratified earlier this year by the Irish government.

Article nine of the convention requires that people have the ability to challenge critical environmental decisions, without facing the threat of large legal costs.

"Once you lose your GMO free status there is no going back," said Irish Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

"We will no longer be able to brand all Irish foods as GMO free and will lose a critical advantage in key export markets.

"I hope the courts give the applicants time to make their case and insist that no plantings commence until the challenge is heard."

The EPA said it had given its approval for the scheme following a detailed examination and assessment.

The consent was subject to eight conditions including reporting requirements and management of the trials.

The agency said scientists would continue to monitor the land for four years after the trial.

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