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Agriculture: Genetically Modified Crops

Volume 718: debated on Monday 29 March 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which genetically modified products approved and marketed bring benefits to consumers in terms of taste, nutrition, cost and shelf life; and what assessment they have made of the effect of marketed genetically modified crops on production costs, choice of seeds for growers, yields, pesticide use and weed resistance. [HL2865]

Current genetically modified (GM) products approved for food and feed use in the European Union (EU) are not intended to provide benefits directly for consumers. They are mainly products made from GM crops which are designed to make weed and pest control easier for farmers, being herbicide-tolerant, insect-resistant, or a mix of both these traits. In addition, the EU has just approved the cultivation and marketing of a GM potato which has altered starch composition for various industrial uses.

Defra is aware of various published reports on the impact of GM crop cultivation in other countries. The reported impacts can vary according to the specific type of crop involved and the country or region of use. In addition, outcomes may fluctuate over time, and the range of evidence available on a given impact may not cover a consistent period.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 8 March (WA 12), whether there was discussion about the scientific evidence of proposed authorisations for genetically modified products in the Council of Ministers. [HL2899]

There is not normally a substantive discussion when votes are taken in the Council of Ministers on proposed authorisations for genetically modified (GM) products. Any issues about the scientific evidence relating to a specific product are usually raised at an earlier stage in the EU assessment process, before a decision is referred to the council. Scientific questions concerning GM food and feed applications under Regulation (EC) No.1829/2003 can be raised at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, and for applications made under the GMO Deliberate Release Directive 2001/18/EC, at the associated Regulatory Committee. The position taken by the UK on GM applications is informed by the expert scientific advice provided by the European Food Safety Authority and the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment.