§ Lord Alton of Liverpool
asked Her Majesty's Government:
How many genetically modified animals have been produced in the United Kingdom each year since 1995; whether records are kept of these animals; how many of the animals contain human genetic code; and what steps they are taking to ensure that labelling of products containing cross-species human genetic material are labelled accordingly. [HL1307]
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
The production and breeding of genetically modified animals in the United Kingdom falls within the definition of a regulated procedure under the terms of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and must, therefore, be authorised by a project licence issued under the terms of Section 5 of that Act. Project licence holders must keep detailed records of procedures performed and animals produced.
Project licence holders are required to submit annually to the Home Office specified details of all animals used in regulated procedures. This information is collated and published each year. Since the definition of a regulated procedure includes the production of genetically modified animals, these figures must (subject to the caveats set out below) equate to the number of genetically modified animals produced in the United Kingdom.
The relevant annual statistics for both Great Britain and Northern Ireland show that the total numbers of genetically modified animals used in scientific procedures in each year since 1995 are as given in 2WA column (a) below. Figures for 1998 are currently being collated.
The figures in column (a) below do not include harmful mutants but they do include genetically modified animals imported into the United Kingdom. Column (b) gives estimates of the numbers of imported, genetically modified animals used in scientific procedures in the United Kingdom. Exact figures cannot be given as licence holders are required only to submit details of the source for those animals listed in Schedule 2 to the 1986 Act.
Year (a) (b) 1997 355, 396 5, 000 1996 303, 850 7, 600 1995 215, 308 5.500
It is also possible that genetically modified animals produced in one year but used in other scientific procedures the following year will be included in the statistics for the year in which they were used rather than the year in which they were bred.
Records of whether the animals contain human genetic code are not kept centrally but do form part of the records to be kept by individual project licence holders.
I will have to write to the noble Lord regarding the issue of labelling. I will need to consult with those departments responsible for the labelling of different types of products.