HC Deb 17 May 1999 vol 331 cc250-1W
Mrs. Organ

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many farms are involved in whole farm trials of genetically modified crops; and what is the total acreage given over to trials of such crops. [84279]

Mr. Meacher

At present 7 farms are involved in the farm-scale trials of genetically modified crops. Three are growing Spring oil seed rape with a total area of about 26 hectares and four forage maize with a total area of about 21 hectares.

Mr. Yeo

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what distance between a field of genetically modified crops and a field of non-genetically modified crops he has been advised will be necessary to ensure that cross-contamination does not occur. [84534]

Mr. Meacher

The distance depends on the crop. There is no possibility of cross-contamination by pollen unless the genetically modified (GM) crop produces pollen and the non-GM crop is both sexually compatible and flowering at the same time. 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. 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. This information is crop specific.