HC Deb 07 May 1999 vol 330 c475W
Mr. Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is the maximum distance he assumes bees can travel when setting isolation distances for genetically modified trial crops. [81408]

Mr. Meacher

[holding answer 20 April 1999]: There is no maximum distance to which it can be guaranteed that bees will travel. But, in general, bee foraging behaviour is well understood and one member of ACRE is an expert on bees and their behaviour. When foraging a crop with high flower density, a bee may fly for some metres, possibly hundreds of metres, to a particular area of the crop. ACRE always take account of pollen dispersal by bees 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.