"The Government has welcomed the Report as making an important contribution to the intense debate on the regulation of GMOs in agriculture through the presentation of a balanced and considered perspective on the key issues surrounding the application of biotechnology in agriculture and food production. The Government's response in particular welcomes a number of the Committee's recommendations. It makes the point that rigorous and wide-ranging assessment of risks to the environment and human health must continue to form the foundations of the regulatory process and that the Government is committed to ensuring that risk assessment provisions are strengthened and extended to include indirect and delayed environmental effects.
"The response also supports the Committee's recommendations on monitoring on the grounds that this will allow a clear picture to be built up of the environmental effects of GMOs, and enable the assumptions in the risk assessment to be verified. The response further welcomes the Committee's recommendations on labelling and makes clear that the Government is pressing the European Commission to develop further proposals on thresholds for adventitious contamination and a list of materials from GM crops that will not require labelling.
"Finally, the response states that the effective and timely revision of Directive 90/220 on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs is a major priority for the Government. It offers the opportunity to reinforce the existing legislation to secure full protection for human health and the environment, while providing a stable and predictable regime which will maintain UK and EU competitiveness in the commercial exploitation of biotechnology and genome research.
"The European Parliament adopted its first reading Opinion in February 1999. The Government welcomes the Opinion, and supports the Parliament's call for moves to reach a common position shortly."