Genetically Modified Crops — 8 Jun 2000

I beg to move,

That this House deplores the Government's mishandling of the consequences of the presence of GM seeds in a batch of conventional oil seed rape seeds imported to Britain from Canada, which were subsequently planted for commercial purposes; and condemns the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's response which has led to a collapse in public confidence and unnecessary difficulties for the agricultural industry.

The episode has not been spectacularly well-handled.

The public are confused, bemused, underinformed and feel disenfranchised in this whole debate.

We moved quickly to establish the facts.

We established the facts and put them in the public domain.

In this whole matter, the Government are proceeding on the basis of professional advice provided . . . to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment . . . on the environmental issues.

looked at this specific incident and concluded that there is no risk.

In conclusion, ACRE considers that the risks to human health and to the environment are very low. However, the Committee welcomes the precautionary steps proposed by DETR to verify and monitor independently the situation in the field and report back to the Committee.

The advice that the Government collectively have received is that it is not necessary to trace . . . the crops.--[ Official Report , 18 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 473-75.]

I am not keeping any information secret. I have gone out of my way to be candid with the House.--[ Official Report , 25 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 1101.]

I'm even more annoyed there was a total lack of communication between MAFF and ourselves . . . We are writing to them to make it clear that this is unacceptable.

It must be asked why those who had purchased the seed were not informed immediately and, secondly, instructed by the ministry to destroy the seed (or the crop, if it had already been planted) to ensure GM plants are contained in research environments only.

that they would want to make some tests themselves and not to say anything about it until they had sorted that out. I took a lot of comfort from that and as a result did not take any action to inform farmers or seed merchants.

To knowingly corrupt seed products is of course an offence in this country, as is knowingly releasing them into the environment.--[ Official Report , 25 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 1099.]

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:

endorses Her Majesty's Government's approach to the development of GM technology in agriculture; believes that the Government has responded in a responsible, open, considered and proportionate way to the recent discovery of the adventitious presence of GM seed in conventional oilseed rape seed; supports the priority the Government

has given and continues to give to the protection of public health and the environment, and its continued determination to act on the best available scientific advice; applauds the creation of the new, independent Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission to provide strategic advice on GM issues; welcomes the announcement by the seed company Advanta, following discussions with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, that they will provide a fair and equitable compensation package to affected farmers; and commends the Government for the action it is taking at both national and international level to minimise the risk of a similar incident occurring in the future.

That's a horse that won't run, Master Secretary.

There will be others.

was raising fears rather than addressing the issue.

The UK statutory nature conservation agencies must be consulted

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would have been an act of gross irresponsibility on his part to overreact to the hysterical demands coming from Labour Members?

Does he further agree that if the British beef industry is destroyed as a result of that hysteria, voters in the rural economy, which will have suffered a devastating blow, will know whom to blame?

Does my right hon. Friend also agree that if billions of pounds of extra public money were suddenly to be available for the purposes of protecting children's health, it would certainly not be sensible to use that money to pay for the slaughter of millions of healthy British cattle?--[ Official Report , 25 March 1996; Vol. 274, c. 720.]

is one that had previously been approved in the UK under our strict regulatory regime for food use.

indistinguishable from conventional rape oil; no modified DNA will be present.

the GM variety is sterile.--[ Official Report , 18 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 473.]

In addition to the human safety and environmental concerns outlined in the appendices to the notice, CVM believes that animal feeds derived from genetically modified plants present unique animal and food safety concerns.

They told me that they would to make some tests themselves and not to say anything about it until they had sorted that out. I took a lot of comfort from that and as a result did not take any further action to inform farmers or seed merchants.

moved quickly to establish the facts.

The advice that the Government collectively have received is that it is not necessary to trace and destroy the crops.

I believe that the response that I have announced today, and which was announced yesterday

is the right one.--[ Official Report , 18 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 473-74.]

Seed obtained from outside of the UK or the European Union may have different seed production criteria. This may make it difficult to guarantee that it is absolutely free from any GM material.

We recommend that the Government ensure that the separation distances set out in the SCIMAC guidelines be reviewed if there is clear evidence of cross-pollination.

Question , That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 144, Noes 267.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 120 (+2 tell)076.3%
Independent0 1033.3%
Lab267 (+2 tell) 0064.8%
LDem0 20042.6%
PC0 1025.0%
SNP0 1016.7%
UUP0 1011.1%
Total:267 144064.4%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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