§ Joan Ruddock
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many spot checks have been undertaken in the last six months to ensure seed purity. 
§ Ms Quin
[holding answer 9 November 2000]: Between 1 May and 31 October 2000, MAFF arranged for 611 samples to be taken and tested from seed offered for sale. These were tested to ensure compliance with the minimum standards for analytical purity and 'other seeds content' required by the EU seeds directives. Of the samples tested, two failed to reach these minimum standards due to excessive presence of ergot or other seeds.
In addition, the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) has delegated powers under Section 125 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to carry out inspection and enforcement with respect to the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms. CSL inspectors have audited 11 main seed importers to ensure that appropriate checks and tests are being carried out to prevent unapproved GM seed varieties being released.
In response to a Government request for information, the seeds industry has advised that they have reviewed their seed production methods and, where a risk assessment deems it appropriate, seed companies are having samples of seed tested to detect any presence of GM material.