§ Mr. Stinchcombe
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if it is the Government's policy to seek an amendment of EC Directive 90/220/EEC so that companies with marketing consents for genetically modified crops must inform the relevant local authority of their intention to plant genetically modified crops in their area. 
§ Mr. Meale
The Government strongly support the revision of Council Directive 90/220/EEC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on which political agreement was reached at the recent EU Environment Council. The political agreement did not include provision that companies with marketing consents for genetically modified (GM) crops must inform the relevant local authority of their intention to plant GM crops in their area. However, the agreement does provide for mandatory consultation of the public on all releases. Provisions require the Commission to make all summary notifications for applications to place GMOs on the market and assessment reports available to the public, which has the right to comment within 30 days. Assessment reports and the opinions of the Scientific Committees for all consents issued and rejected must also be made available to the public.
§ Mr. Meale
DETR carries out extensive research on the environmental impact of genetically modified (GM) crops. Two important recent reports are, "The Commercial use of Genetically Modified Crops in the United Kingdom: the Potential Wider Impact on Farmland Wildlife", that includes consideration of the environmental effects of both herbicide tolerant and insect resistant GM crops and "Environmental Risks of Herbicide Tolerant Oilseed Rape". Copies of both reports are in the Library.
The farm-scale evaluations—announced in response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Simpson) on 15 April 1999, Official Report, columns 301–02— are investigating whether there are any differences in the diversity and abundance of wildlife associated with the management of genetically modified (GM) herbicide tolerant oil seed rape and maize compared with the management of equivalent conventional crops.
§ Mr. Meale
My Department is aware of the potential risks of genetically modified (GM) insect resistant crops to non-target and beneficial organisms, and we are funding research to investigate these. This research will underpin future regulatory decision making.
My right hon. Friend the Minister for Environment reported in his reply to the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) on 24 May 1999, Official Report, column 8, that the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) had been asked to give consideration to the report in Nature about the possible adverse effects of pollen from genetically modified insect resistant maize on the Monarch Butterfly in America. ACRE concluded that the laboratory studies presented in the article are preliminary and that more work needs to be done, particularly to study the effects under field conditions. Despite the questions remaining about the study, the results do suggest that Bt pollen from the genetically modified maize is harmful to Monarch butterfly larvae under the laboratory conditions tested, although this may not necessarily reflect what actually happens in the natural environment.
This study alone does not justify any immediate action in the UK. There are currently no Bt crops being grown here and none will be for the next three years. The issues raised in the Nature article will be kept under review by ACRE and no GM crops will be given approval if there is reason to believe the pollen would harm the environment.
§ Mr. Meale
DETR carries out extensive research on the environmental impact of genetically modified (GM) crops. Two important recent reports dealing with gene transfer from GM crops to wild relatives are "The Commercial use of Genetically Modified Crops in the United Kingdom: the Potential Wider Impact on Farmland Wildlife", and "Environmental Risks of Herbicide Tolerant Oilseed Rape". Copies of both reports are in the Library. Ongoing research commissioned by MAFF on pollen transfer will be published when the work is complete.