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Genetically Modified Organisms

Volume 301: debated on Tuesday 25 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list by name for each year for which figures are available the instances of horizontal transmission of genetic material from genetically modified organism approved for (a) field testing and (b) marketing. [17735]

There are no figures available for instances of horizontal gene transfer for each release of a GMO which has been carried out. To date, 313 consents have been granted for the experimental release of GMOs since the regulations came into force in March 1993. Previous research by both the Department and industry has shown that the frequency of horizontal transfer of any genes to wild species is very low. Monitoring is often a statutory condition of consents for experimental releases. However, no formal arrangement exists to monitor gene transfer because the consequences of horizonal gene transfer occurring are evaluated in advance when considering all applications for consent. Consent is granted only if the consequences of gene transfer would be negligible. The Department is continuing to fund research to monitor releases of GM oilseed rape carried out under a marketing consent. This includes monitoring for evidence of gene transfer to confirm that the risk assessment remains valid.