§ Mr. Meacher
[holding answer 19 June 2002]: A sequence of mechanisms applies, which enable appeals to be made at various stages in the development of a GM variety prior to the marketing of seeds of that variety.
- 1. Before a GM crop variety can be considered for seed registration it must have been assessed at European level for safety to human health and the environment and be approved for placing on the market under Part C of Directive 90/220/EEC on the Deliberate Release into the Environment of Genetically Modified Organisms. This directive has now been replaced by the new Directive 2001/18/EC, which has to be implemented by member states by October 2002. Under part C of the new directive, the European Commission and all member states discuss applications for consents to market GMOs (including GM seeds) in the EU and may ask for further information, make comments on, or present reasoned objections to the proposed release. The Commission is required to consult the public while the application is being considered, and these views are copied to all member states. The Commission and member states then make a collective decision on the application, and a marketing consent is either granted or refused. The new directive (like its predecessor) does not have any specific provisions for appeal against the decision to grant or refuse consent. However, it does ensure that if new information comes to light regarding the risks posed by the GMO to human health or the environment, the consent can be altered or revoked as appropriate.
- 2. The Seeds (National Lists of Varieties) Regulations 2001 provide a three-stage appeal process. On payment of the appropriate fee, persons affected by a proposed relevant decision (which includes proposals to add any varieties, GM or conventional, to the UK National List) may make written representations to the national authorities and/or oral representations to a person appointed by them. The national authorities are required to consider such written and/or oral representations before taking a relevant decision and must give notice of their decision and the reasons for it as well as information about how that decision may be appealed to the Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal.
- 3. The Plant Breeders' Rights Regulations 1998 set out similar arrangements in respect of plant breeders' rights.