HC Deb 28 July 2000 vol 354 cc950-1W
Mr. Yeo

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to the oral statement of 18 May,Official Report, column 474, on the introduction of a seed purity inspection system, when the process of planning this system began; when he will publish details of how the system will work; if the introduction of the system is conditional upon EU or other international agreements; how much the system will cost; and how the system's costs will be funded. [124151]

Mr. Meacher

[holding answer 5 June 2000]: The process of planning seed purity inspections began in February this year when the new arrangements for the inspection of GM release and marketing consents were being developed with the Central Science Laboratory (CSL), who were formerly appointed to undertake this task on 1 June. CSL's responsibility is to ensure that every GMO release site in England and, where appropriate, Wales is visited and expected once a year, and that consent holder's arrangements to ensure compliance with consents are audited. Consent holders are charged an annual subsistence fee to pay for these inspections.

In the light of the recent Advanta oilseed rape case, interim arrangements have been made to audit imports of seed, and sample seed for testing where necessary. These inspections are being carried out under provisions in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and are not conditional on EU or other international agreements. My main concern is that unauthorised GM seed is not imported and released into the environment. Importers of seed have been contacted and reminded of their duties. Industry will be carrying out their own tests to ensure imported seeds and grain does not contain unauthorised GMOs. The costs of this testing will fall to the industry. CSL will audit their arrangements to ensure that this has been carried out effectively.

Costs of the audits have not yet been finalised. For the time being the Government is funding CSL to do his work. The Government will consider how to charge for these inspections when implementing forthcoming EU legislation on GMOs and seed purity.

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