The leader of the Irish Green Party, in government in the Republic for the first time following the recent election, is to become the country's first minister for food.

Trevor Sergant has been chosen to fill the new post by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who now heads a three-party coalition that includes the Greens.

Sergant, who has been a member of the Irish parliament for 10 years, said he had "a passion for promoting Ireland as a green, clean, food-producing island", adding that he considered that to mean quality produce and "absolutely no GM crops".

Earlier this year he led a protest that forced BASF to abandon GM potato trials in County Meath.

As minister, he said he wanted to see more organic farming, more farmers' markets and higher prices from the multiples for growers.

In a recent debate in parliament, he pointed out that 40% of the Republic's field vegetables are grown in his Dublin North constituency and warned that without a 25% price increase the industry could collapse in three years.

Until now, food had been part of the agriculture portfolio, a linkage criticised by consumer groups, who said the department was mainly concerned with the interests of producers.

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