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Genetically Modified Crops

Volume 718: debated on Monday 8 March 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many safety tests of genetically modified crops and foods, to the highest international standards, they have commissioned in the last 10 years. [HL2302]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they seek safety testing and other research relating to genetically modified crops from organisations other than corporations that seek commercial approval. [HL2303]

Applications for consent to market a genetically modified (GM) crop or food have to include an appropriate dossier of risk assessment information, including data from relevant tests or trials. The European Food Safety Authority plays a central role in evaluating the dossiers, and in the UK the environmental implications are considered by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment. The independent scientists who undertake this scrutiny will draw on their knowledge of the wider scientific literature that is relevant to a given application, and further data or clarification will be requested from an applicant where a dossier is thought to be insufficient. A marketing consent will only be granted if it is clear that the GM product poses no unacceptable risks to human health, animal health and the environment.

In this context of independent scrutiny of evidence, Defra and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) do not as a rule commission safety tests on specific GM crops or foods, although both commission research into generic aspects of risk assessment in this area. In addition, from 2000-2003 Defra funded a special programme of farm-scale research trials of several GM herbicide-tolerant crops, to assess the environmental implications of the novel herbicide use associated with the GM varieties. Details of Defra and FSA research are on their respective websites.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have evidence of scientific malpractice in the application dossiers for genetically modified crops and food submitted over the last ten years by the six largest biotechnology corporations. [HL2304]

The scientific information provided in applications to release genetically modified crops and foods is subject to independent scrutiny as part of a transparent assessment process. We are not aware of any scientific malpractice by applicants in this respect.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their approach to genetically modified crops and food is guided by the application of the precautionary principle. [HL2373]

The application of the precautionary principle is inherent in the European Union controls on the release of genetically modified crops and foods, which the Government fully support. In addition, both Defra and the Food Standards Agency take due account of the principle in their approach to these matters.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they have taken to eliminate any health and environmental damage associated with Roundup Ready and other herbicide-tolerant genetically modified crops. [HL2374]

Under the European Union (EU) control regime, a genetically modified (GM) crop, including Roundup Ready or other herbicide-tolerant varieties, will only be approved for commercial cultivation if the evidence indicates that human health, animal health and the environment will not be compromised. The Government fully support the EU regime which provides a robust and transparent mechanism for ensuring safety.

In considering any applications to cultivate GM herbicide-tolerant crops, the Government will take account of the evidence obtained from the farm-scale research trials of such varieties that it sponsored from 2000 to 2003.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what has been their voting record in the last 10 years in the Council of Ministers of the European Union in respect of (a) consenting to, (b) rejecting, and (c) abstaining on, applications for genetically modified products. [HL2375]

Over the last 10 years there has been one instance where the UK abstained in an EU Council vote on a proposal to authorise the commercial marketing of a genetically modified product. The UK has voted in favour of other proposed authorisations, in line with the scientific evidence.