HL Deb 11 June 1999 vol 601 c179WA
Lord Kennet

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What relative weight they give to the public interest and to commercial secrecy in decisions concerning genetically modified crops; and how the appropriate criteria are developed. [HL2407]

Lord Whitty

The release of information on genetically modified (GM) crops is governed by the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 1992 (as amended) which give effect to Part VI of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Under the regulations, information contained in applications to release GM crops must be placed on the public register. However, the legislation requires the Secretary of State to keep certain information confidential if required to do so by the company concerned. The department's criteria for deciding whether such requests are valid are set out in the guide to the regulations, a copy of which is in the Library. Generally, such information is limited to the protection of intellectual property rights for which a patent application is being made. The information is placed on the public register once the patent has been granted. Otherwise all the information in the application for consent to release or market a GMO is available on request. Even when the detailed description is kept confidential, general information about the description of the genetically modified organism in question and the purpose of the release must be placed on the public register.