§ Angela Eagle
The Department invites English Nature to comment on all applications for research trials or marketing of genetically modified organisms. Their representations are taken into account in the Secretary of State's decision. In commenting on the specific genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops which have gone forward for marketing approval in the European Union, English Nature raised various concerns, but did not at that stage call for a three year ban.
In responding to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on a discussion paper on genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops in September 1997, English Nature stated thatuntil the consequences of using GMHT crops become clearer through research the conservation agencies recommend that the precautionary principle is applied and that no commercial releases are approved for at least the next five years. With research not being available before 2000, we find it difficult to justify the addition of GMHT crops to the UK national list until 2002".
The Ministry, along with my Department, is considering the large number of comments received about the discussion paper and will announce its conclusions as soon as it can.
In response to the concerns of English Nature and other conservation bodies about the widespread introduction of genetically modified crops and the resulting changes in pesticide use and agricultural practice; off icials in my Department are considering the implications for the environment, particularly possible indirect effects on wildlife. We shall be having further discussions with English Nature and others on how these concerns may best be addressed.
§ Angela Eagle
The Department's research to monitor releases of genetically modified oil seed rape is being carried out by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany. This study started in 1995 and we expect to receive the final report in March. We will assess the implications of the research and the results will be published by the Department as a research report.
In September 1997, the Department commissioned NIAB to carry out a further three-year study into monitoring large scale releases of genetically modified 12W crops. This will include crops entered into the national list trials such as winter oil seed rape and sugar beet. The results of this study will be published in due course.
§ Angela Eagle
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) consulted interested parties last year on a proposal for an exemption certificate which would allow disposal of untreated liquid waste containing GMOs when, on the basis of a thorough risk assessment, they are judged not to pose a risk to human health and the environment. The sort of GMOs concerned are those which are capable of only limited survival in the environment. Non-reproduction would be one of the factors considered in the risk assessment. The consultation also included detailed related guidance on risk assessment.
The Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification have evaluated the outcome of the consultation exercise. They advised that while no new issues about risk assessment had been raised in the consultation an independent review of the scientific literature should be commissioned, given the continual advances in knowledge in this area, to ensure that the very latest scientific information is taken into account. HSE has accepted this advice. Further consideration of the proposed certificate and guidance, by HSE and the Government Departments with an interest, has therefore been deferred pending completion of that review.