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Genetic Engineering

Volume 202: debated on Friday 24 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what research his Department is funding into whether genetically engineered micro-organisms decay in the environment or multiply in an uncontrollable fashion threatening ecological balance;(2) what research his Department is funding into the possible hazards to the health of man and of animal and plant life from the release of genetically engineered micro-organisms into the environment.

My Department spent over £1 million in 1990–91 on research into genetically modified organisms and expects to maintain future expenditure at a similar level. A substantial part of the research programme focuses on risks associated with the release of genetically modified micro-organisms, and more particularly on developing and assessing techniques for their isolation, identification and tracking in the environment. Results from this research are now being used to determine accurately whether populations of micro-organisms multiply or decay after release and to assess their subsequent impacts on other organisms in the environment.