HL Deb 19 October 2004 vol 665 c77WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What advice they are receiving on the probable impact of genetically modified crops and food products on farmers and food consumers in developing countries and especially on the poorest people within them. [HL4308]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos)

DfID monitors and reviews information on the use and potential impacts of genetically modified crops and food from a range of sources, including the United Nations Environment Programme biosafety newsletter and the Meridian Institute's food security and ag-biotech news service.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics produced a major review in January 2004 on the actual and potential benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops for developing countries. The report offers a constructive contribution to the ongoing debate on genetic modification technologies. The Government share the report's conclusions that achieving food security and reducing poverty in developing countries are complex issues, that GM crops are unlikely to feed the world but that in some circumstances they could make a useful contribution to improving the livelihoods of poor people in developing countries.

Recognising that there are both potential benefits and risks associated with GM crops, DfID believes that developing countries need to be able to make their own informed choices about whether to adopt GM technologies or not. To this end, the UK Government have pushed for the implementation of international legislation such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which provides for rigorous assessment and management of the risks involved in the use of genetically modified organisms. The UK has ratified this protocol.