§ Mr. Meacher
[holding answer 5 June 2000]: In respect of possible transfer of pollen from GM crops to conventional or organic crops, my Department has wide 367W powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to prevent the marketing or planting of GMOs without a valid consent.
The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment assesses the safety implications of all forms of possible gene transfer from GM crops and only those which present no adverse implications to public health or the environment are granted approval to be grown.
My Department has recently announced that checks for the presence of GM material will commence on imported conventional seed. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture has launched a review of GM crop separation distances.
§ Mr. Alan Simpson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions on which date he requested the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment Department to give advice on whether the crops of GM contaminated Hyola oilseed rape were safe for the environment, when he received the advice; and what it was. 
§ Mr. Meacher
The information given by Advanta, at their meeting with officials from my Department and MAFF, on 17 April was extremely sketchy. At that stage, Advanta had been warned by the German authorities that some GM contamination in some supplies of seeds might have occurred. They did not at that stage know for sure whether a GM had been involved, or which GM it was, or which seed batches had been affected, to which countries those seed batches had been dispatched, or in which years. Advanta informed my Department at that time that they were initiating urgent inquires. However, it took until 10 May to obtain sufficient information, particularly on which GM was involved to be able to provide ACRE with a basis for their decision, and in some respects the investigation is still going on.
ACRE' s advice is that there are no adverse implications for human health or the environment.
§ Mr. Meacher
[holding answer 5 June 2000]: The first step was to identify the types of genetically modified seeds present in the affected batches of oil seed rape.
The affected seeds were in fact a well-known herbicide-tolerant rape line grown commercially in North America. This line has also been grown in field trials in the UK and there are currently 12 consents for field trials of these plants. On each occasion, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) had considered a full dossier on information about the GM rapeseed and its possible environmental impact, before consent was granted.
Therefore, when ACRE were consulted about the Advanta seeds, they were able to give advice about the possible environmental risks from growing oilseed rape containing a small proportion of these seeds.