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Gm Contaminations

Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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11.

When she expects to issue guidelines on liability for compensation in the case of GM contaminations. [120196]

We expect to receive a report next month from the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission on the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops and associated liability issues. We will consider that issue further in the light of that report.

Can I return to the issue of the economic implications of contamination, particularly for organic farming, by GM crops? When will the Government issue guidance on specific liability, which I believe the commission judges to be a political, not a technical issue, and on an industrial compensation scheme, on which the Government would have to take a lead? Without guidance and leadership on those two issues, it will be impossible to make rational decisions on the future of commercial use of GM crops.

As I mentioned earlier, we recognise that co-existence raises issues, including whether it is possible to agree threshold limits in relation to crops, how those can be measured and how that fits in with the organic sector's rules. Of course, there are issues of liability, regulation of the use of any crops, declaration, description and control. Those are quite complex issues. The report that has been commissioned will be helpful in guiding the Government on what the best way is of shaping that. Those issues are still under discussion. The national dialogue that is under way will also be helpful in obtaining people's views on the best way forward on those points.