SnowBall archive



2 March 1999 No. 10 of Session 1998-99 (2 pages)
The Environmental Audit Committee today agreed terms of reference for its
inquiry into genetically modified organisms - as follows: to examine the
arrangements within Government for policy on the development and use of
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the light of the implications for
environmental protection and conservation, in particular the role of the
Cabinet Committee on Biotechnology and the coordination of the respective
responsibilities of government departments and institutions.
Written submissions are invited to this inquiry. Memoranda should be submitted
no later than Friday 2 April 1999 addressing the following questions:
1. Is there a need to develop a strategy for assessing and managing the
environmental implications of the release of GMOs?  
- Should this strategy include the formal assessment of the environmental
benefits of GMOs alongside their risks? 
2. If so, does the Government have adequate mechanisms for developing such a
strategy, in terms of:  
- the coordination of existing policy and regulation; 
- oversight of, and influence over, the direction of development of GMOs; 
- the assessment of direct and indirect risks, including the cumulative impact
of GMO releases over time; 
- the contribution that GMOs might make to more sustainable agriculture? 
3. What mechanisms exist, or are needed, for incorporating public values and
concerns regarding the environmental implications of GMOs, alongside the
results of scientific assessment, within the decision-making process?4.
What is
feasible and desirable in terms of preserving consumer choice by segregation
and labelling - particularly the issue of "labelling for process" to provide
for consumer influence over the use of GMOs and their environmental
5. What scope does the UK and EU have for policy initiatives, and what are the
prospects for multilateral agreement, on the release of GMOs into the
environment - with particular reference to the World Trade Organisation and
GATT disciplines and obligations?
6. Are there adequate arrangements for civil liability for environmental
caused by GMOs?
The Committee expects to hold evidence sessions in April 1999.