Green party leader Trevor Sargent has urged the Government to keep Irish agriculture free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Deputy Sargent said it is 'foolhardy in the extreme' to trust the guarantees of the biotech companies, following the latest UK scientific research that shows that contamination of conventional and organic crops can occure within a 16 mile radius of a GM trial site.

Speaking during a constituency tour of Kilkenny, Mr Sargent added that biotech company Monsanto's decision this week to pull out of Europe is the clearest sign ever that there is no market for GM foods.

Earlier, his party colleague John Gormley tried to raise the matter in the Dáil, calling for a full debate on a new UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

After being told by the Tánaiste that the matter was to be dealt with by an Oireachtas committee, Deputy Gormley asked if the Government was in the pocket of Monsanto, in the same way it is in the pocket of Shell.

British GM trial results welcomed

Earlier, campaigners against the growing of genetically modified crops have welcomed the results of field trials carried out in Britain over the past three years.

They say they show the alleged benefits of GM do not exist.

The field trials found that some GM crops were worse for wildlife than conventional crops.

The findings come as the EU prepares to lift a five-year moratorium on the growth and sale of new varieties of GM foods and seeds.