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Genetically Modified Food and Producer Liability (No. 2) Bill




Make further provision with respect to the safety of and liability for the deliberate release or marketing of genetically modified organisms and genetically modified food; to establish a genetically modified organism compensation fund; and for connected purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

Risk assessments of genetically modified organisms.     1. - (1) The Environmental Protection Act 1990 is amended as follows.
      (2) After subsection (8) of section 111 (consents required by certain persons) insert-
    "(8A) Where there is a risk of significant damage to human health or the environment the Secretary of State shall not regard any lack of scientific certainty as a reason for not refusing the application or for not imposing any condition or limitation on a consent.".
      (3) After section 126 (exercise of certain functions jointly by Secretary of State and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) insert-
"Regulations: supplementary.     126A. - (1) In making regulations under this Part the Secretary of State shall-
    (a) have regard to the precautionary principle; and
    (b) insofar as the regulations prescribe-
      (i) the manner in which assessments under subsection (1) or (3) of section 108 are carried out; or
      (ii) the information to be contained in an application for consent under subsection (4) of section 111
    have regard to relevant regulations under the Medicines Act 1968.
      (2) Regulations under the Medicines Act 1968 are relevant for the purposes of this section if they prescribe the manner in which assessments of the safety of medicinal products are to be carried out.".
      (4) In subsection (1) of section 127 (definitions), after the word "Kingdom" insert-
    ""precautionary principle" means that where there is a risk of significant damage to human health or the environment lack of scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for not taking or for postponing measures to avoid or minimise such a risk;".
Liability for damage caused by genetically modified organisms.     2. - (1) A person (in this Act referred to as a "potential defendant") who-
    (a) holds a consent under section 111 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (consents required by certain persons); or
    (b) holds a consent given by another Member State under Article 13(4) of Council Directive 90/220/EEC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms
       shall be liable for any damage which is caused by the deliberate release or marketing of a genetically modified organism under the terms of that consent.
      (2) Where liability under this section is incurred by a body corporate any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate shall be similarly liable unless he can show that he did everything in his power to prevent the deliberate release or marketing which caused the damage in question; and in this Act any reference to a potential defendant shall include reference to such a director, manager, secretary of other similar officer.
      (3) Where damage to the environment outside the meaning of paragraphs (a) to (d) of section 3(1) occurs-
    (a) the Secretary of State; or
    (b) with the leave of the court, any other person
       may apply to the court for damages to be awarded against a potential defendant.
      (4) In reaching its decision on an application under subsection (3) the court may have regard to such matters as seem to it to be relevant, including-
    (a) the severity and detrimental effect of the damage to the environment;
    (b) any relevant profits made by a potential defendant; and
    (c) any relevant remuneration received by a potential defendant.
Meaning of "damage".     3. - (1) In this Act "damage" includes-
    (a) personal injury;
    (b) damage to property;
    (c) financial loss;
    (d) the cost of protecting against, preventing, remedying or rectifying environmental damage;
    (e) damage to the environment within the meaning of subsection (2).
      (2) In subsection (1)(e) and in section 2 "environment" shall be construed in accordance with article 2.10 of the Lugano convention on civil liability for damage resulting from activities dangerous to the environment.
Proceedings.     4. - (1) Where proceedings take place under section 2 it shall be for the person proceeded against to prove that he did not cause the damage in question, but it shall not be open to a person within section 2(2) to prove that he did not cause the damage in question if the body corporate of which he is director, manager, secretary or other similar officer has caused such damage.
      (2) Where proceedings under section 2 are brought against more than one person it shall not be a requirement for the person bringing the proceedings to identify the person who caused the damage in question, provided that he can prove that one or more of the persons so proceeded against could have caused the damage.
      (3) It shall be a defence for a person proceeded against to prove that the damage in question was caused by an exceptional case of force majeure.
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