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Genetically Modified Organisms

Volume 171: debated on Friday 27 April 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what arrangements have been made for advice to be obtained on proposals to release genetically modified organisms to the environment.

At present, advice is obtained from a sub-committee of the Health and Safety Commission's advisory committee on genetic manipulation and from my Department's interim advisory committee on introductions.I have agreed, in conjunction with the Health and Safety Commission, that these two committees will be replaced by a single committee to give advice on all aspects of the safety of proposed releases to the environment of genetically modified, and other novel organisms. I announced during Second Reading of the Environmental Protection Bill on 15 January,

Official Report, column 42 that Professor John Beringer of Bristol university has agreed to be chairman of a new committee to advise on release in relation to the new legislation. I anticipate that the new committee, whose establishment I am announcing today, will evolve in due course into the committee to advise on the new legislation.

The full terms of reference of the committee will be to advise the Health and Safety Commission and Executive, Secretaries of State, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and other bodies as appropriate, on all aspects of the human and environmental health and safety of the introduction into the United Kingdom environment of genetically modified and other novel organisms; and in particular to advise on proposals for specific introductions, on research needs, and on proposed regulations and written guidance.

I am pleased to announce that members of the committee will include people from a wide range of backgrounds, including different scientific disciplines,both sides of industry, local authorities, farmers and environmental experts.




Prof. J. E. Beringer(Chairman)Microbial ecologist and geneticistUniversity of Bristol
Sir Kenneth Blaxter, FRSApplied biologist and agronomistFormer Director, Rowett Research Institute
Prof. M. P. Hassel, FRSPopulation biologistImperial College
Prof. D. OnionsVeterinary biologistUniversity of Glasgow
Prof. M. WilliamsonBiologist and ecologistUniversity of York
Prof. A. AtkinsonMicrobiologistCentre for Applied Microbiology and Research, Porton Down
Prof. D. JeffriesHuman virologist/medicSt. Bartholomew's Hospital
Dr. D. R. LangslowBiologist and ecologistChief Scientist, Nature Conservancy Council
Dr. D. RobinsonPlant virologistScottish Crops Research Institute
Dr. C. GliddonPlant population geneticistUniversity of Bangor, North Wales
Dr. A. WatkinsonPlant ecologistUniversity of East Anglia
Dr. M. ElliottFreshwater biologistInstitute of Freshwater Ecology
Mr. J. E. MoffittCattle breeding and arable farmerStockswell, Northumberland
Prof. N. J. PooleMicrobiologistICI Seeds
Dr. P. G. BoseleyMolecular biologistDirector of Research and Development, Agriculture Genetics Co. Ltd., Cambridge
Dr. G. M. SchofieldMicrobiologistProject Leader, Expert Systems, Unilever
Dr. J. KinderlererBiochemistUniversity of Sheffield
Ms. J. HillEnvironmentalistGreen Alliance
Ms. D. HaberHealth and safetyManufacturing Science and Finance Union
Mr. P. HurstHealth and safetyTransport and General Workers Union
Mr. C. F. FranksBorough Environmental Health OfficerBrighton

One other member, an agricultural scientist, is still to be appointed.