Defra News Release (7/04), 7 January 2004
The UK Government has confirmed today to the European Commission that it has assessed an application by Bayer for the importation of genetically modified rice for processing and animal feed as complying with EU requirements.
This assessment reflects legal obligations under EC law and the advice from the Government's independent advisers, ACRE (the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment). The application and the UK's assessment will now be studied by other EU Member States before a collective decision is made. Consent, if granted, would not permit cultivation of the rice in the EU nor, without separate approval, could it be used in human food.
Under the EC Directive 2001/181 (Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC), all applications to import or cultivate GM crops are initially assessed by the government to which they are originally submitted. Accordingly, the UK has assessed this application against the safety and other requirements of the Directive. It is now forwarding it for further scrutiny by all other Member States before a collective decision is made. In forwarding the application for further scrutiny the Government is insisting, if consent is subsequently given by the EU for import, on annual reports on post market monitoring of this GM rice. Any consent would be subject to strict requirements on traceability and labeling set out in new EU Regulations.
The Government has been advised by ACRE that the rice:
"Does not pose a risk to human health and the environment. The marketing of this product for importation and processing in the UK will be no different from that of other rice imported for processing and animal feed purposes. In coming to this conclusion ACRE have taken account of the advice of the Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs (ACAF). ACRE also recommends that reports of post market monitoring for general surveillance of this product be provided to the regulatory authorities on an annual basis".
Environment and Agri-Environment Minister Elliot Morley commented:
"Current EU legislation requires a case-by-case assessment of all applications on the basis of the scientific evidence - and that is what we have done. Our independent Advisory Committee has concluded that there are no safety-based objections to this application. We will, however, be insisting as ACRE advises that, if marketing consent is given, it should be on the basis that there are more stringent post-market monitoring reporting requirements.
"Everyone should be able to make reliable and properly informed choices about GM food and crops. Genetically modified food and products are available widely throughout the world. Only products which have met stringent health and environment tests will ever be on sale in this country - consumers can then choose whether or not to use them on the basis of the best information available".
The following additional notes are provided:
[The UK's assessment, and ACRE's advice, are available via http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/gm/regulation/euconsent.htm]