HC Deb 30 January 2002 vol 379 c353W
Mr. Paterson

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what compensation is available to organic enterprises whose status is affected by adjacent GM crops. [27744]

Mr. Meacher

[holding answer 24 January 2002]: Liability in respect of any damage from GM crops, including that to organic status, is being addressed at both European and UK levels. The European Commission is developing proposals for an environmental liability regime covering a range of activities, including the release of GMOs.

In order to minimise any impact from GM crops in the Farm Scale Evaluations (FSEs) on nearby conventional or organic farms, separation distances are used to help ensure that cross-pollination does not exceed 1 per cent. In many cases it will be much lower. We are working with organic sector bodies and the biotechnology and farming industry body, SCIMAC, to ensure that this situation continues in the final year of the evaluations.

I am also considering whether domestic liability provisions for GM crops might be needed in the light of the Commission's wider proposals. The benefits of a domestic regime might include increased reassurance for the public and nearby farmers, an effective mechanism for correcting environmental damage, and ensuring that producers of GM seeds and growers of GM crops take proper account of their potential impact on non-GM production. In the meantime, an individual who feels they have suffered a loss due to the release of a GMO may be able to commence an action in the courts.