London (22nd July, 2005) – Members continue to put questions to the Minister:

18 Jul 2005 : Column 1282W

GM Food

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what help the UK Government plans to provide to (a) farmers and (b) milk retailers to ensure adequate supplies of important non-GM animal food. [11831]

Mr. Morley: The Government have no plans to provide specific help to farmers or milk retailers to ensure adequate supplies of imported non-GM feed for animals. This is a matter of choice, not safety, and market forces will operate to deliver feed derived from non-GM sources if there is sufficient demand from farmers and retailers. Legislation is already in place to ensure that animal feed derived from GM crops is labelled to enable farmers to make appropriate choices.

GM Crops

20 Jul 2005 : Column 1710W

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures to avoid the unintended presence of genetically modified organisms in other products her Department has taken, with reference to Article 26A of EU Directive 2001/18. [13037]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 July 2005]: Before there is any commercial GM cultivation we plan to have appropriate measures in place to ensure the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops, consistent with Article 26a of Directive 2001/18. No GM crops are expected to be grown here commercially before 2008 at the very earliest.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress she has made in establishing a liability regime in respect of GM crops. [13038]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 July 2005]: Last year we held a number of stakeholder workshops as the first step in consulting on measures to ensure the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops. We plan to issue a full consultation paper on this issue later this year. It will set out options for a possible liability regime in respect of financial losses that might be incurred by non-GM farmers, if their crops have an unintended GM presence above the EU 0.9 per cent. labelling threshold.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what margin of buffer zone, in miles, she estimates is necessary to guarantee zero cross-contamination of non-GM crops by GM crops. [13039]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 July 2005]: Non-GM crops can only be cross-pollinated by GM crops of the same or very closely related species. In addition, for some crops like beet or potatoes, cross-pollination does not affect the harvested material, so if a GM variety cross-pollinated a non-GM variety, the produce of the latter would not have any GM content. Pollen produced by crop plants may be dispersed by insects or on the wind. The frequency of cross-pollination events between crops decreases with distance, but it is known that they may occur infrequently over very long distances. This makes it difficult to think in terms of guaranteeing zero cross-contamination by the use of buffer zones.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what weight her Department gives to (a) environmental and (b) human health considerations in determining its policy on the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops. [13040]

20 Jul 2005 : Column 1711W

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 July 2005]: None. GM crops will not be approved for cultivation unless they pass a detailed case-by-case assessment of possible risks to human health or the environment. Co-existence measures are therefore not needed for safety reasons.

Sources:

1. United Kingdom Parliament: Written Answers to Questions [18 Jul 2005]. GM food (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/cm050718/text/50718w01.htm - 50718w01.html_sbhd2)

2. United Kingdom Parliament: Written Answers to Questions [18 Jul 2005]. GM crops (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/cm050720/text/50720w02.htm - 50720w02.html_sbhd4)


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