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Gm Crops

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the procedures to be put in place for the forthcoming consultation on genetically modified organisms. [115288]

[holding answer 22 May 2003]: The Government-sponsored public debate on wider GM issues, which is being managed by an independent Steering Board at arm"s length from Government, will be launched on 3 June. The public will have the opportunity to debate the issues surrounding GMOs, either by attending a meeting or by accessing the website.Regional public meetings will be held in Birmingham (3 June), Swansea (5 June), Taunton (7 June), Belfast (9 June), Glasgow (11 June) and Harrogate (13 June). Further regional or local events are being held across the country, run by local authorities and organisations, with debate toolkit materials being provided to facilitate debate. Further information on all the local and regional events can be found on the public debate website at www.gmnation.org.uk, due to go live on 27 May.The Steering Board will submit their report on the outcome of the debate to Government in September. We have made a commitment to make a written response to their report, and to indicate what we have learned from the debate when making future policy announcements on GM.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the criteria to which the UK will have to adhere under the EU directive for commercial applications for licences for the planting of genetically modified organisms. [115289]

[holding answer 22 May 2003]: The relevant EU Directive (Directive 2001/18/EC) sets out the criteria and time scale all member states must adhere to in assessing applications for licences for cultivation of GMOs. The criteria relate to the potential risk to human health and the environment. Each applicant is required to provide the information set out in Annexes III and IV of the Directive; an environmental risk assessment, the principles of which are outlined in Annex II, and a post market monitoring plan as required in Annex VII. Assessments are made by the member states based on all the information provided.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the payment of compensation to organic farms, recognised by the Soil Association, which are contaminated by neighbouring GM farms. [115476]

The current position is that an organic farmer who has suffered economic loss as a result of activities on a neighbouring farm can make a claim for redress through the courts. The independent Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission is preparing a report to Government on the co-existence of GM, conventional and organic crops, and related issues of liability. We will develop our policy in the light of that report.