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GE - New ACRE Committee meets


Hi All

The Department of the Environment, Transport & the Regions have put out a
Release today (see below) to mark the first meeting of the new Advisory
Committee on Releases to the Environment. It lists all the members of the
Committee with a short biography. 

No doubt they also rubber stamped the two applications for GMO releases
which I
understand were:

 from Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) to release strawberries
genetically modified for resistance to vine weevil - Ref: 99/R23/6. The GM
strawberries will contain, amongst others, the controversial snowdrop lectin
gene and an antibiotic marker gene. But it's all okay chaps because they are
going to put a net over the one acre trial site and, of course, this will stop
the strawberries from entering the foodchain. (I wonder if Dr Mike Mayo who
works at SCRI left the ACRE meeting while this was discussed)
 from AgrEvo UK Ltd to release winter sown oilseed rape genetically modified
for herbicide tolerance (glufosinate ammonium) and reduced susceptibility to
fungal infection - Ref: 99/R19/19. This trial will take place at the Scottish
Agricultural Colleges in Aberdeenshire



16 September 1999


The new Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) met 
today for the first time.

Following a background session for new members on the current 
legislation, their terms of reference and the work programme for the 
coming year, the committee met Environment Minister Michael Meacher. 
It also considered two decisions for small scale releases in 

Mr Meacher commented: 

"The ACRE committee is central to the regulatory process. It offers 
expert advice on the safety and risk issues associated with growing 
GM crops, including cross pollination and the ability of a the GM 
plant to become a superweed. No GM trial can take place and no 
product can be approved unless ACRE is satisfied it is safe to do so.

"The new ACRE committee is composed of a broad spectrum of interests 
including academics, scientists, ecologists, conservationists and 
farmers. With new membership and a wider remit the committee will 
also look at the ecological impact of growing GM crops."


Dr Mark Bailey
Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology
Expertise: Molecular biology, Microbiology 

Principal Scientist and Leader of the Molecular Microbial Ecology 
Group at the National Environmental Research Council ( NERC ) 
Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology. Dr Bailey is a 
member of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council 
( BBSRC ) Microbial Genetics Working Party, and until recently served
as a member of the NERC Terrestrial Sciences Peer Review Committee 
and the Society for General Microbiology's Environmental Microbiology
Group. He has been an adviser for Health and Safety Executive and the
former Department of the Environment (DOE) as well as working for the
Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development.

Mr Edward Cross
Farmer, Abbey Farm, Norfolk.
Expertise: Farming practice 

Mr Cross currently jointly manages a substantial farming concern in 
the East of England. He has a strong commitment to farming and the 
Environment and is Director of the Farmer's Link Sustainable 
Agriculture & Rural Development Working Group.

Professor Alan Gray (acting ACRE Chairman)
Institute of Terrestrial Ecology - Furzebrook
Expertise: Farmland ecology

Head of ITE Furzebrook and, from next year, of the combined Institute
of Terrestrial Ecology and the Institute of Freshwater Ecology's 
Laboratory in Dorset, Professor Gray has been a highly regarded and 
productive member of ACRE for five years. He has more than 30 years' 
research experience in pure and applied ecology and genetics. He is a
past Vice-President of the British Ecological Society and holds a 
Visiting Professorship at Southampton University.

Dr Susan Hartley
Institute of Terrestrial Ecology - Banchory
Expertise: Ecology, Entomology

Principal Scientific Officer and Head of the Community Ecology 
Section at the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology's Banchory Research 
Station. Dr Hartley is a leading plant ecologist specialising in 
herbivory and is on the Science Advisory Board for Scottish Natural 
Heritage, the Steering Committee of the Heather Trust and an Honorary
Senior Lecturer at the Department of Plant and Soil Science at the 
University of Aberdeen.

Dr Penelope Hirsch
Institute of Arable Crop Research-Rothamsted
Expertise: Molecular Biology, Microbiology

Principal Research Scientist at the Institute of Arable Crop 
Research-Rothamsted. Dr Hirsch is recognised as an outstanding 
molecular biologist whose current area of research concentrates on 
soil microbial ecology. Dr Hirsch is a member of the Technical 
Sub-Committee of the Advisory Committee on Genetic Manipulation.

Dr Mike Mayo
Scottish Crop Research Institute, Dundee
Expertise: Plant virology

Senior Principal Scientist at the Scottish Crop Research Institute. 
Dr Mayo is a leading research scientist working on the molecular 
biology of plant viruses. He is a member of the Executive Committee 
of International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

Professor Christopher Pollock 
Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, Aberystwyth
Expertise: Plant breeding, Molecular biology

Research Director at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental 
Research. He is a member of the BBSRC's Strategy board and Chair of 
the Plants and Microbial Sciences Committee. In 1996 he was a member 
of DOE's Climate change Impacts Review Group. Professor Pollock is 
currently Chair of the steering committee for the programme of 
farm-scale evaluations.

Mr Jules Pretty
University of Essex
Expertise: Sustainable development

Director of the Centre for Environment and Society, University of 
Essex. Mr Pretty is an acknowledged expert on sustainable 
agricultural systems and farming practice. He is a Consultant for 
Department for International Development (DFID) projects and the US 
Agency for International Development. He is also a Member of the 
advisory committee for DFID on Biodiversity Policy and Practice 

Dr Mark Rees
Imperial College, University of London
Expertise: Weed ecology, Plant biology

Lecturer at Imperial College, University of London. Dr Rees has an 
excellent international reputation for his research on plant 
population dynamics and its application to the biological control of 
weeds. Dr Rees was awarded the Founders Prize of the British 
Ecological Society in 1997.

Dr Christopher Spray
Northumbrian Water 
Expertise: Biodiversity and Conservation.

Environmental Manager at Northumbrian Water, responsible for 
conservation and Biodiversity issues. Dr Spray has produced 
Northumbrian Water's environmental strategy and Biodiversity Action 
Plan. He is a member of DETR's Conservation, Access and Recreation in
the Water Industry committee, a member of the England Local Issues 
Subgroup (of the England Biodiversity Group) and Chairman of Water 
UK's Network on Conservation, Access and Recreation in the Water 

Professor Phil Mullineaux
John Innes Centre, Norwich
Expertise: Molecular Biology

Principal Research Scientist at the John Innes Centre, Norwich. Dr 
Mullineaux is a leading plant molecular biologist and leads a large 
team of scientists. He is a visiting Professor at the Department of 
Biological Sciences, University of Essex. Dr Mullineaux is currently 
a member of the DTI Link project management committee for 

Professor Ingrid Williams
Institute of Arable Crop Research-Rothamsted
Expertise: Entomology

Principal Research Scientist at the Institute of Arable Crops 
Research at Rothamsted. Professor Williams is currently the 
entomology expert on ACRE, Chair of the International Commission for 
Plant-Bee Relationships and Council member of the International Bee 
Research Association.

Chair of the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes
(ex-officio seat) Professor Janet Bainbridge
University of Teesside

Professor Bainbridge is the Director of Science and Technology at the
University of Teesside. She is Chair of Advisory Committee on Novel 
Food and Processes (ACNFP) and their sub group on Long Term 
Monitoring. Professor Bainbridge has many years' experience of 
committee work and is a leading authority on GM Food Safety.


ACRE advises the Government on the risks to human health and the 
environment from the release of genetically modified organisms. The 
committee also advises on the release of non-native plants and 
animals to the countryside of Great Britain.

ACRE is an independent scientific and technical committee the members
of which are appointed purely for their expertise. None of the new 
members of ACRE are employed by the biotechnology industry or by 
environmental pressure groups.

ACRE has been reappointed in line with the Commissioner for Public 
Appointments Unit's "Guide on Public Appointments Procedures". The 
Committee was first appointed in 1993 and this will be its third