§ Lord Whitty
Negotiations are currently taking place on the amendment of Directive 90/220 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms. The European Commission's proposal to amend the directive puts forward an amendment to Article 16. This states that Article 16 action may be taken where a member state "as a result of new information or reassessment of existing information," has detailed grounds for considering that a notified product constitutes a risk to human health or the environment.
The Commission's proposal to amend the directive also includes a provision to broaden the scope of the environmental risk assessment which must be carried out before any release may take place. The amendment expands the scope of the risk assessment to cover "direct and indirect, and immediate and delayed" effects.
The Government would like to see reference made to the risk assessment in Article 16. This would clarify the fact that a member state may take action under Article 16 where there has been a reassessment of the risk assessment (which includes indirect effects) which provides grounds to consider that a product constitutes a risk to human health or the environment.98WA
§ Earl Peel
asked Her Majesty's Government:
How the proposed "stakeholder's forum" will:
- (a) have an input to the process whereby genetic modification (GM) products are approved for commercial release in the United Kingdom; and
- (b) provide an over-arching "link" to the many government departments having separate GM remits. [HL3701]
§ Lord Whitty
At the House of Lords Select Committee, the Minister for the Environment announced his intention to consider calls from both sides of the GMO debate for an environmental "stakeholder's forum", consisting of representatives of those groups with an interest, such as farmers, plant breeders, conservation bodies, public interest groups and the scientific community. This proposed forum is under discussion by Her Majesty's Government before consulting more widely. Whatever the outcome of these discussions, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) will continue their detailed case by case assessment of applications to release or market GMOs.
It is not envisaged that an environmental stakeholder's forum will be an "over-arching body". The Prime Minister has announced to the House of Commons the new Ministerial Group on Biotechnology and Genetic Modification, which will consider issues relating to biotechnology, in particular those arising from genetic modification. This will improve interdepartmental policy co-ordination on biotechnology issues as they emerge.