Galway Independent, 12 June 2013: Allen puts brakes on BIM Slow Food claim

Allen puts brakes on BIM Slow Food claim

Galway Independent, 12 June 2013


Celebrity chef and Slow Food guru Darina Allen has written to Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney to clarify that the Slow Food movement does not support fish farming projects such as the proposed Galway Bay salmon farm.

The Ballymaloe Cookery School proprietor’s comments came after Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the state agency which is seeking to locate the 500-hectare organic farm in Galway Bay, included references to the Slow Food movement in the farm’s environmental impact statement (EIS).

Slow Food is an international grassroots membership organisation, which seeks to promote good, clean and fair food for all and oppose “the standardisation of taste and culture”.

In the EIS, Clare salmon producer The Burren Smokehouse was one of six fish businesses profiled. The profile stated, correctly, that The Burren Smokehouse was a member of the Slow Food movement.

However, this reference to Slow Food, said Ms Allen, caused much confusion amongst members of the public, many of whom interpreted its inclusion as a vote of support for the Galway Bay salmon farm by Slow Food International.

“Certainly, that seemed to create a lot of confusion,” Ms Allen told the Galway Independent this week. “Many people contacted me under the perception that Slow Food endorsed the whole salmon farm thing and actually Slow Food has made no statement whatsoever on it.”

Following representations from Ms Allen and Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, the proprietor of The Burren Smokehouse, BIM subsequently removed all reference to the Slow Food movement from the version of the EIS available on its website.

Ms Allen then wrote to Minister for Food, Agriculture and the Marine, Simon Coveney, to ensure that he was aware of the change and of the fact that Slow Food does not, in fact, support fish farming.

Ms Allen acknowledged that the original statement did not imply that Slow Food supported fish farming, but said that it had been interpreted that way.

“It may not have been intended to cause confusion, but it did.”

Michèle Mesmain of Slow Food International further confirmed that “salmon farming does not fit in any pillar of Slow Food”.

Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment said that any redacted version of the EIS should again be made available for public consultation.

“BIM cannot alter an EIS on which the public has depended for its submissions without informing stakeholders. Simon Coveney, as Minister, must ensure openness and transparency in the EIA process though his agency BIM,” said Mr Lowes.

A spokesperson for BIM told the Galway Independent that “BIM did not expect, intend or anticipate that any of the company profiles it reproduced in its EIS publication would be regarded as an endorsement of the salmon farming project”.

Although the Department of Food, Agriculture and the Marine was made aware of the change to the EIS, BIM confirmed that it was the original version which was being considered by the Department and yesterday restored the original paragraph to its website.

“In the interest of transparency, today BIM has reinstated the deleted paragraph shown below so that it is in identical terms to this EIS,” confirmed the spokesman.

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