Let Ireland be open for innovation

As the political parties in Ireland sift through the entrails of the general election, and as Fine Gael and the Labour Party discuss a possible programme for government, let them not repeat the mistake of the outgoing Fianna Fáil/Green coalition in rejecting nuclear power and research into genetically modified organisms in their original programme. This presented Ireland as a place in which innovation was not particularly welcome.

There are, I know, valid arguments that can be raised against nuclear power and the distribution of GMOs. But there is no valid argument against doing further work on, researching into or analysing the possible benefits of either. It is time for us to take a mature approach rather than indulge in knee-jerk positions.

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22 Comments on “Let Ireland be open for innovation”

  1. Pidge Says:

    Research into both nuclear power and GMOs would require distribution and proliferation of both technologies in Ireland, should we want to be attractive to international R&D efforts.

    Why would you research nuclear power in a country with no such power plants, or without the expertise found in countries such as France, Germany or the UK?

    Why would you research GMOs in a country where you are unable to plant them as part of the testing process?

    Ireland is not going to specialise in these areas unless it allows them to be used in the country. For me, the benefits of possible extra research in Ireland are outweighed by the negative costs of both (namely an increasingly centralised, controversial and expensive grid and the diminution of Ireland’s image as a high-quality agricultural source).


    • Pidge, some of your points seem to me to be based on non-sequiturs. There is already GMO research, and has been for some time. Remember GMOs are not just in the food sector: insulin is a GMO. As I have pointed out before, a GMO-free Ireland means asking diabetics to leave. But even in the food sector you can do a lot of research without doing any open field agriculture. Nor do I believe that Ireland’s image in that sector benefits at all from a non-GMO status (which most consumers wouldn’t know about anyway).

      As for nuclear power, there has been a lot of research in Ireland, for some time. It would make no sense at all to abandon this.

  2. Trich Says:

    I could not agree with either Ferdinand, my gut reaction is, Are you mad?!?

  3. John Says:

    And stem cell research.

  4. John Says:

    Here’s an innovative thought. Leave your lights on. They help heat the room. And you get to see for free. Only in winter of course.

  5. Jonathan Smiles Says:

    I completely agree with you. It is time Ireland stopped being held to ransom by fundamentalists who are simply opposed to Nuclear Power and GMO’s regardless. They see it as a personal philosophy. However, why not conduct our own research and let facts guide the debate. So I would support this idea.

  6. Al Says:

    localisms triumphing over National interests….
    You probably made the right choice in leaving….

  7. Vincent Says:

    Cannot this be done on a conceptional level. Why do we need all the bells and whistles for everything under the Sun. And if we need to fiddle about with big toys. Don’t most Universities with such also have a willingness to share, all-be-it for a price. The KECK being a case in point.

    http://keckobservatory.org/about/vision_and_mission

  8. Trich Says:

    I believe in organic food, or at least fresh food and natural energy sources. I remember in the 70’s Irish people protesting against Nuclear energy in Ireland, I wasn’t part of it. However, I am grateful those people did protest and won. In 1986 my first child was due to be born on the 25th April and the next day Chernobyl happened! Look at what the effects and affects of radiation are on those children now and on the environment!
    There are many links you can look up to find out the pro’s and con’s for Nuclear energy. However, Ireland is surrounded by the water, so wave and wind energy are viable options along with Geo-thermal.

    I eat fresh food and my need is that the food I eat is not GM food. I don’t trust GM products, nor do I trust Monsanto.

    I read an article recently that in India the cattle are dying from eating GM stumps of produce that has been harvested. While, I know you can not believe all you read, Monsanto has this legal agreement that all farmers have to sign, which states that any law suits pertaining to their seeds, are the total responsibility of the grower! Check it out for yourself.

    I believe we humans are killing Earth and I feel a huge sadness about this. When I was growing up, I never gave a thought to the air quality that I breathe or to the water I drank from the tap. Since 1990, I have not drank water from my tap. I buy drinking water. Look up the Naas water sewage contamination of drinking water! I lived there then and my youngest daughter was ill for over 6 months as a result of this contamination. Our air quality is also being destroyed by pollution.

    In life, it has been my experience that to go for the long term benefits, rather than the short term gains, is a wise move, in all aspects of humanity.

    So Ferdinand I have expanded………….
    However, now that you have left Ireland, why blog about both Nuclear energy and GM foods?

    Is there method in your madness?

    Would you eat GM produce and would you like to breathe air that is tainted with radiation from a Nuclear power station?

    I wouldn’t!

    No matter what the economic gain!

  9. Al Says:

    Ireland could do with a group, an innovation group or taskforce to help Ireland innovate….

  10. Sally Says:

    Jonathan,

    They probably have their reasons. In the former case Chernobyl and Three Mile Island spring to mind. These two areas – nuclear energy and genetically modified crops – are already being investigated by some pretty big guns elsewhere. Why not encourage those who are interested to join those teams?

    Or is it jobs and money you want?:

    “Dear Multinational Corp. Come and build your next factory here. We will charge you less corporation tax than anyone else and gear our education and research to your needs rather than our own. We understand that you will set the agenda and that any contributions our lyrical, fertile and uniquely creative population make in achieving your own limited and sometimes questionable objectives will belong to you and not to us. This we will call innovation and growth.”

    Innovation directed at doing and getting more of the same isn’t really innovation at all is it? And playing someone else’s game as a white or blue collar wage slave is no life at all.

    Real innovation will consist in figuring out what we really want.

    • Jonathan Smiles Says:

      Dear Sally,

      These certainly do spring to mind and this is the problem. Chernobyl was not the massive disaster it has often been portrayed to be in the Media. If you simply read the joint UN agency reports on the “disaster” you will see both the death toll and post accident issues are far less than is thought in the publics perception (57 deaths as opposed to the predicted 4,000). We have since discovered that low levels of radiation are actually beneficial to health (there is environmental radiation all over the planet). Also, nuclear power technology has moved on since then. Just look to the big issue with Bulgarian accession to the EU. Their nuclear power stations (same model as Chernobyls) were deemed unsafe.

      It is being closed minded (like you appear to be) which is the problem. People hear something and they instantly accept it without any evidence. I am saying we should research it and see if it fits our needs.

      • Sally Says:

        I can vouchsafe the second-last sentence. Being more objective myself, I need to hear it from either a man in a suit, a ‘scientist’ on the telly, or an Italian in a funny hat. You will appreciate the difficulty I have had handling the fissile material myself – the spent rods are a devil of a job getting down the waste disposal – but I appear to be making some progress on the old GMO front.

        • Jonathan Smiles Says:

          Yes indeed….why let facts get in the way of your own personal prejudice. I think you have a very high opinion of your own knowledge and it may not be entirely well placed.

  11. Mike Scott Says:

    While in Malawi I was amazed at the gigantic maize being grown which yielded massive crops, which in turn was causing a population boom. However unlike the much smaller native maize, the large genetically modified plant was sterile. So the farmers had to go back to Monsanto (or whoever) to buy the seeds for next years crop.

    Great business model..(!?)

    • Trich Says:

      Mike,

      I smiled at you last line, you are right, in the case of Monsanto, a farmer/grower HAS to buy the seeds etc only from Monsanto.

      An unhealthy business model I’d say…….. :)

      Have a great weekend to you all.


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