Should Ireland declare itself GM-free in food production?

One of the pledges in the October 2009 Revised Programme for Government is to declare Ireland a GM-free zone. The Programme promises to “declare the Republic of Ireland a GM-Free Zone, free from the cultivation of all GM plants”, and states “To optimise Ireland’s competitive advantage as a GM-Free country, we will introduce a voluntary GM-Free logo for use in all relevant product labelling and advertising, similar to a scheme recently introduced in Germany.” This followed the commitment in the 2007 Programme for Government that “the Government will seek to negotiate the establishment of an all-Ireland GMO-free [crop] zone.”

The issue has become topical because of a proposed change in EU legislation which would allow individual Member States to permit the cultivation of  GM crops or not. The idea is to combine a European Union authorisation system for GMOs, based on science, with freedom for Member States to decide whether or not they wish to cultivate GM crops on their territory. Any such prohibitions or restrictions would have to be based on grounds other than those covered by the environmental and health risk assessment under the EU authorisation system. It is expected that the new legislation will enter into force by the end of this year.

Yesterday’s Irish Times reported that the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association has called on the government to immediately implement the Programme for Government pledge. Would it make sense to do so?

After the Fall

In this Jackson Hole paper,  Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart find that the negative impact of severe financial crises on macroeconomic performance is long lasting, with real house prices remaining below the previous peak a decade after the crash, unemployment remaining at an elevated level and a cumulatively-large decline in GDP growth.

High Earners and Tax: Media Misinterpret DoF Report Again Department

The Irish Times reports:

For example, the latest official breakdown on the 423 highest earners in the State showed that for 189 individuals who earned €500,000 or more in 2008, the average tax rate was 19.86 per cent.

I’m afraid this isn’t true. This report does not relate to the 423 highest earners in the State, as I’ve written about here, here and here. It only relates to a subset of the highest earners who would have paid less than 20 percent because of tax loopholes but who are not doing so now because of the introduction of a minimum rate.

To be fair, I don’t blame the journalists because the relevant document is so poorly written.  At this point, however, I really think the folks in the Department of Finance responsible for this report should consider issuing an official clarification.

Update: In comments, Joseph O’Toole reckons I’m being mean to the Department of Finance because this is a Revenue Commissioners report. Well, I found the report here on the Department’s website, which suggests that they are responsible for its release. But, yes, the report is put together by Revenue Commissioners staff.  So let me rephrase my point: Whoever is responsible for this report might think about issuing a clarification.

FT: Pluck of the Irish

The international media are gradually noticing that our plethora of banking sector policies have not worked to restore the Irish banking sector to health but are threatening the health of the public finances. An editorial piece from the Financial Times is highly critical. It concludes:

It is time to staunch the bleeding. As Irish state guarantees near their expiry date, some banks will not be able to refinance their balances. The government should prepare insolvent banks for forced debt-for-equity swaps, which would instantly recapitalise the banks in question and cap the government’s exposure. This cannot be done frivolously; European institutions are exposed and EU partners must be consulted. But someone must put an end to the practice of handing banks blank cheques. Some Irish pluckiness would benefit us all.

I take it the FT will now be dropped from the long list of august international institutions that the government rolls out to claim support its banking policies.

PSO levy (3)

Sarah Carey is not impressed with the PSO levy. See the earlier discussion here and here.