HL Deb 26 July 1999 vol 604 cc154-6WA
Lord Hardy of Wath

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What distances need to be enforced to prevent pollen pollution between genetically modified maize and unmodified maize and between genetically modified oil seed rape and unmodified oil seed rape; and what distances have been arranged in trial areas. [HL3159]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State., Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty)

The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) has advised that the information from decades of experience with producing seeds to specific purity levels can be used to estimate the level of cross-pollination which is likely to occur between crops in adjacent fields at specific distances. It is not possible to guarantee that no cross-pollination will occur, even with very large separation distances, although the amount of cross-pollination decreases rapidly with distance.

In evaluating a proposed release of a genetically modified (GM) plant for research purposes ACRE always take account of pollen dispersal by all means and its likely consequences. Based on the type of GM plant, how it has been modified and the circumstances of the proposed release it may be judged necessary to minimise the potential for cross-pollination of neighbouring sexually compatible crops or wild relatives by the GM plants. The precautions taken to prevent or reduce cross-pollination may include the removal of flowers or the setting of specific isolation distances between GM and non-GM plants or borders of non-GM plants around the plots of GM plants. Where isolation distances are set these are not intended to prevent pollen spread but to reduce pollen spread as far as is practically possible.

All crops in the farm-scale evaluations are being grown in accordance with the SCIMAC (Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops) Code of Practice and Guidelines. The guidelines set out proposed separation distances between GM and non-GM crops and are based on internationally recognised criteria for ensuring high purity in seed production. The recommended separation distances in respect of oilseed rape and forage maize are as follows.

Crop Certified seed crops (Same species) Registered organic crops (Same species) non-GM crops (Same species)
Oilseed Rape 200m 2000m 50m
Forage Maize 200m 200m 200m Sweetcorn 50m Forage maize