§ Sir Teddy Taylor
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement outlining the extent to which the UK is permitted to impose restrictions on the growing of GM foods without the permission of the European Union. 
§ Mr. Meacher
[holding answer 29 June 1999]: I have been asked to reply.
The release into the environment and the marketing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are regulated by Council Directive 90/220/EEC. All such releases are carried out following a scientific assessment of risk carried out case-by-case on the basis of an environmental risk assessment. All authorisations for the experimental release of GMOs are issued by the UK authorities on the basis of this Directive. The UK authorities may impose specific conditions on any release, and may suspend a release where there is evidence of harm to human health or the environment.
Consents to market GMO products (Part C consents under the Directive) are issued at Community level in order to secure the single market for these products. Notifications on the basis of the Directive are submitted through the competent authority of one member state and all other competent authorities may then comment upon the application. If there are differences between member states, the matter is resolved by qualified majority voting.
Restrictions may always be imposed to take account of specific environmental conditions in member states, and the safeguard clause allows member states to suspend any release immediately if evidence emerges of harm to human health or the environment. This is subject to confirmation within three months at Community level.