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Genetically Modified Organisms

Volume 167: debated on Wednesday 14 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has considered the issue of liability in respect of damage caused to the environment as a result of the release of a genetically engineered organism.

Part VI of the Environmental Protection Bill refers to the setting up of a statutory control system for genetically modified (engineered) organisms, making provision for criminal offences in the case of breach, including the general duties for preventing damage to the environment. Express provisions relating to civil liability are not included. However, Lord Lewis, chairman of the Royal Commission on environmental pollution, referred to the question of strict civil liability in his letter to the Secretary of State of 6 February. I am considering the position further.