HC Deb 05 April 2001 vol 366 cc248-9W
Joan Ruddock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many(a) inspectors and (b) inspector hours per year were devoted to inspecting experimental releases of genetically modified organisms in (i) 1996, (ii) 1997, (iii) 1998, (iv) 1999 and (v) 2000 to ensure consent conditions were complied with; how many breaches of consents were detected in these years; and how many resulted in prosecutions. [156463]

Mr. Meacher

[holding answer 2 April 2001]: The information is given in the table. Figures exclude Scotland from 1 April 2000 as the Scottish Executive have had independent inspection arrangements since then. The Central Science Laboratory (CSL) took over responsibility from HSE for inspections in England and Wales on 1 June 2000.

Inspections of GMO releases 1996 to 2000
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Number of inspectors 1 2 2 1 11
Days per year spent on inspections 110.75 156.1 132.2 124.7 173.5
Number of breaches of consent3 0 3 5 0 1
Number of prosecutions 0 0 0 2 0
3 The figures reported for 1997 and 1998 show the instances where in the opinion of the HSE inspector releases were not being carried out in accordance with the release consents. Details were provided in my replies of 17 December 1998, Official Report. column 630W, and 4 February 1999, Official Report, column 720W, to the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker). Two cases resulted in prosecutions.

The breach of consent in 2000 was reported by Aventis at two of its small-scale research and development trial sites of GM sugar beet (consent reference 00/R33/02). This consent authorised the release of sugar beet plants genetically modified for tolerance to glufosinate herbicide. At the end of the trials approximately 0.5 per cent. of the plants were found to be of a GM line that was also tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate and were not covered by the consent. CSL investigated this matter to ensure that volunteer GM beet plants were controlled and that measures are in place to prevent a recurrence. The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment was informed and concluded that there was no increased risk to human health or the environment. Aventis will be required to conduct additional monitoring of the affected sites in 2001.