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Dietary Supplements

Mr. Paice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the consultations which he carried out prior to his decision to limit the level of vitamin B6 in dietary supplements; when he expects to complete the consultations currently under way; when he expects to consult other EU members on his proposals; and if he will invite the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment to review the evidence which led to his decision, with particular reference to research which produced different results to that on which his decision was based. [10631]

Mr. Rooker: The Government's decision to limit the level of vitamin B6 in dietary supplements sold under food law was based on advice from two independent committees, the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment--COT--and the Food Advisory Committee. In formulating this advice, the committees took account of information

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supplied and views expressed by organisations with an interest in the subject matter. The organisations were invited to submit data on the safety of vitamin B6 to the COT which were considered before the committee finalised its advice. Their views on the possibility of a voluntary limit of 10 mg of vitamin B6 per daily dose were sought by officials from this Department as part of the FAC's consideration.

The Government were aware of the views that had been expressed by interested organisations when we considered the advice of the FAC. Our decision to accept that advice was announced on 4 July. On 23 July, my hon. Friend the Minister for Public Health and I met representatives of organisations who were unhappy with the proposed limit to listen to their concerns. I have also written to the National Consumer Council, the Consumers Association and the National Food Alliance, none of which had expressed reservations about the decision, to give them the opportunity to comment.

Further consultation with interested parties will take place once the regulations required to implement the proposed limit have been drafted. The European Commission and other member states of the European Union will be given an opportunity to comment on the proposed regulations at the same time.

The COT has already considered this issue twice: I have no plans to invite it to undertake a further review.

Genetically Modified Food

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the circumstances in which individual EU states are permitted to prohibit the importation of genetically modified food. [10969]

Mr. Rooker: Article 12 of EC regulation 258/97 concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients provides that member states may restrict or suspend the trade of such foods--those containing, consisting of, or produced from, genetically modified organisms--within its territory, where, as a result of new information or a reassessment of existing information, that state has detailed grounds for considering that the use of such food endangers human health or the environment. There are similar provisions in article 16 of EC directive 90/220 on the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms.

Scientific Committee for Food

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations his Department has made to the European Commission regarding the declaration of interests of members of the Scientific Committee for Food. [10977]

Mr. Rooker: There is already a requirement for members of the European Commission's Scientific Committee for Food to declare interests, direct or indirect, on all items on their agendas.

Common Agricultural Policy

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what percentage of total EU expenditure has been accounted for by the CAP in each year since 1979. [10964]

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Mr. Rooker: The information is as follows:

YearTotal CAP expenditure (EAGGF guarantee) as a percentage of total EC expenditure


1996 figures are not yet available.


FEOGA Annual Financial Reports.

Annual Reports of the European Court of Auditors.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much money has been saved within the CAP as a result of changes negotiated during the 1992 CAP negotiations. [10965]

Mr. Rooker: The 1992 reforms resulted in a shift from end-price support to direct payments to farmers. This benefited consumers, but there were no savings to the EU budget.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr. Faber: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to publish the Government's recommendations concerning badgers and the spread of bovine tuberculosis. [11056]

Mr. Rooker: After Professor Krebs has reported later this year.

Food Sample Testing

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the rate of food sample testing in each year since 1992. [10974]

Mr. Rooker: In 1993, around 130,000 food chemical analyses were carried out by the Department. Approximately 142,800 analyses were carried out in 1994 and in excess of an estimated 145,000 in 1995 and 1996. Comparable data are not available for 1992.

BSE Carcases

Mr. Pike: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what representations he has received from (a) local authorities and (b) other bodies regarding landfill sites in which BSE carcases have been disposed of since 1988; and if he will make a statement; [9180]

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Mr. Rooker: This Department has received a number of letters, including from local authorities, about the licensed landfill sites in which the carcases of cattle suspected of being affected with BSE--heads previously removed for diagnosis and subsequent incineration--were disposed of between 1988 and 1991. No BSE suspects have been disposed of by landfilling since 1991 when sufficient carcase incineration capacity came on stream to process the number of cases that were coming forward.

The Environment Agency has responsibility for the supervision of landfill sites in England and Wales which are licensed under part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The objective of the licensing system is to ensure that waste is disposed of without harming the environment or human health. In fulfilment of its supervisory role, the Environment Agency has carried out a qualitative assessment of all the landfill sites that took BSE suspects, taking into account the number of carcases buried, the degree of containment and the proximity of water sources. On the basis of those findings, it then carried out a further, more detailed quantitative assessment of a selection of sites which were judged to be typical of those sites judged to be most vulnerable.

The study calculations show that the likelihood of the most exposed individual ingesting, in one year, sufficient material to cause infection as a result of the landfilling that took place ranges from one in 1 million years to one in 10,000 million years, depending on local circumstances. In reality, however, the risk to the general public in each case will be well below the level of risk to the most exposed person. The agency believes that the risks assessed for the six sites studied in the quantitative assessments should be representative of the full range of risks posed by all 59 sites. A list of these was sent to each of the relevant Members of Parliament.

The results of the Environment Agency's landfill risk assessment were published by the agency at a press conference on 25 June. Copies of this, and related risk assessments, are available in the Library of the House.

Departmental Relocation

Mr. Colvin: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what the capital cost will be of moving his offices to Nobel house, Millbank; and what the additional revenue costs will be to his Department, including the costs of rehousing the civil servants he displaces. [10134]

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Mr. Morley: The estimated cost of moving offices to Nobel house, which is within the MAFF estate, is £120,000. The additional estimated revenue costs to the Ministry, including the costs of rehousing civil servants, is £947,000. This includes an occupancy charge of £367,000 for additional accommodation which is payable to the Property Advisers to the Civil Estate, an executive agency of the Cabinet Office. Expenditure of this order would have been incurred anyway within the next few years when the Ministry renovated its Whitehall place offices, and is therefore not additional, taking a medium-term view.

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