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Gm Farm-Scale Evaluations

Volume 621: debated on Tuesday 6 February 2001

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What separation distances will apply to the GM farm-scale evaluations this spring. [HL619]

Following the scientific review and public consultation on separation distances that the ministry commissioned last year, Ministers have asked the industry representative body, SCIMAC, to apply the separation distances set out in the following

Revised SCIM AC Guidelines for Crop Separation Distances Spring 2001
CropCertified seed crops (same species, all varieties)Registered organic crops (.same species, all varieties)Non-seed/Non-organic ('ordinary') crops (same species)
Oilseed rape200m200mConventional varieties and restored hybrids50m
Varietal Association and partially restored hybrids100m>1
Sugar beet600m600mall varieties6m2
Fodder beet600m600mall varieties6m2
forage maize80m
1 Varietal associations have a proportion of male sterile plants, which means those plants do not self-pollinate and are therefore more susceptible to pollination by nearby rapeseed plants. The separation distance is greater than for conventional varieties to take account of this fact.
2 As only the maternal plant tissues are used, cross-pollination will not affect the produce of non-seed crops. All bolters must be removed from the farm-scale trial crop so that pollen is not released.

table for the spring farm-scale evaluations this year. These include changes to the distance for varietal associations and partially restored hybrids of oilseed rape (increased from 50 to 100 metres) and the distance for conventional forage maize (increased from 50 to 80 metres).

The purpose of the separation distances is to help ensure that any possible cross-pollination with nearby compatible crops is miniinised. Based on best scientific data currently available, the distances in the attached table should ensure that if any cross-pollination does occur, the resulting GM presence in neighbouring crops would be extremely low. The separation distances agreed should reduce cross-pollination to a maximum of 1 per cent for any crop and considerably below this maximum in most cases. A background note on the separation distances has been placed in the Library of the House.

The distances in question apply for the purposes of the spring 2001 farm-scale evaluations only and will be kept under review for future plantings.

Steps are being taken to strengthen early communication at local level with farmers in the vicinity of FSE sites. All farmers hosting trials are being given clear guidance by SCIMAC that they should discuss their cropping plans at the earliest possible opportunity beforehand with their immediate neighbours. Ministers are also encouraging early dialogue at local level between FSE operators and all relevant local organic growers, and have asked SCIMAC to work closely with certified seed producers to ensure that current and any prospective EU standards for certified seed can continue to be met. MAFF is arranging a meeting with beekeeping organisations and SCIMAC to discuss specific issues affecting local beekeepers. Communication with local farmers will begin in advance of final decision-making and formal public notification to allow as much time as possible for any potential difficulties to be resolved.