HL Deb 30 April 2003 vol 647 cc114-6WA
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will describe the timetable for decisions to be made about the commercial growing of genetically modified crops, the public debate and research being undertaken; and in particular whether:

  1. (a) the results of the field trials involving genetically modified crops will be published in time for them to form part of the material available to the public taking part in the debate; and
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  3. (b) the Government's decision about whether to authorise commercial planting of genetically modified crops will be made during or after the conclusion of the public debate. [HL2351]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty)

(a) The farm scale evaluations of genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops are being conducted by an independent research consortium and overseen by an independent Scientific Steering Committee. The research consortium has now written up its work on the spring-sown crops into a series of scientific papers and has submitted them to a scientific journal where they are currently undergoing peer review. I understand that, if accepted, the papers are unlikely to be published before September. The main phase of the public debate is being conducted between June and July and the steering board is due to report in September. The results of the FSEs are therefore likely to be available to the public taking part in the debate. However once published, the crop trial results will be in the public domain and will be available for comment.

(b) Decisions about whether to authorise the planting of GM crops are expected to be made after the conclusion of the public debate. In terms of individual applications, the commercial cultivation of GM crops is regulated at EU level under EC Directive 2001/18 and decisions are taken on a case-by-case basis. Ten applications for commercial cultivation are currently being considered. These include two of the GM crops in the farm scale evaluations. Final decisions on any of these are unlikely to be taken at EU level before the end of the year, by which time we will have the report of the public debate and the first set of results from the crop trials.