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Fox Control

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what risk assessments have been completed on the recommencement of fox control in Wales following the foot and mouth outbreak; and if she will place copies of the risk assessments in the Library. [12839]

Alun Michael: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) on 31 October 2001, Official Report, columns 735–36W.

Beef Consumption

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of beef consumption was (a) UK produced and (b) imported in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [14061]

Mr. Morley: Estimates of the breakdown of UK beef consumption between imported and UK produced beef are given in the table:

United Kingdom beef consumption

YearTotal available for UK consumptionOf which: imports(30)As a percentage of total consumptionOf which: UK produced beefAs percentage of total consumption

(29) Thousand tonnes carcase weight equivalent

(30) Assumes all imports are consumed in the UK and all imports during a particular year are consumed in that year

(31) Provisional data


Prepared by: Statistics (Commodities and Food) Division, Economics and Statistics Directorate, DEFRA

14 Nov 2001 : Column: 821W


Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many vets were employed by the state veterinary service in each year since 1997. [14058]

Mr. Morley: The number of veterinary surgeons employed by the state veterinary service at 1 January each year since 1997 is given in the table.

Of the 286 full-time equivalent veterinarians employed by the state veterinary service, 220 are employed as field veterinary officers. The work of these officers is supplemented by about 100 temporary veterinary inspectors (TVIs) from the private sector in normal times.

YearNumber of vets

Sheepmeat Exports

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects the commencement of sheepmeat exports; and if she will list those countries free from foot and mouth disease from which sheepmeat destined for export can be derived. [14060]

Mr. Morley: It is anticipated that the mechanisms for the recommencement of exports of sheepmeat will be in place by 19 November 2001. The areas where the sheep may be sourced are available in the Library of the House.

GM Crop Trials

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will make it her policy that no new farmscale GM crop trials will be licensed within cross-pollination distance of Ryton Organic Gardens; [275]

14 Nov 2001 : Column: 822W

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 25 June 2001]: The crops grown in the programme of farmscale evaluations (FSEs) are at two different stages in the authorisation process. The powers to intervene in the licensing of the FSEs depend on the authorisation status of the GM crop concerned.

The oil seed rape and beet are authorised by my Department for growing in the evaluations under UK legislation implementing Part B of European directive 90/220 on deliberate release of GMOs. The consent is underpinned by a risk assessment and permits the GM crops to be grown in the evaluations on any arable land where rape or beet would normally be grown. The consent holder has to notify the Department of the locations of proposed sites prior to sowing together with a statement indicating whether the risk assessment remains valid for the new site and, if not, provide further evaluation. The consent holder may proceed to sow the crop unless he receives written indication from the Department that the new site does not comply on safety or other grounds with the conditions of the consent and the risk assessment.

The GM maize has Europe-wide approval for cultivation under Part C of Directive 90/220 granted in August 1998 by the French competent authority on behalf of the EC. However, this approval imposes no restrictions or conditions on the locations where the maize can be grown. For this crop, therefore, the Department has no statutory powers to intervene over the location of trial sites. However, before the GM maize could be grown commercially individual varieties will require listing on the National List of Seeds or the European Common Catalogue. In addition, under our voluntary agreement with the industry body SCIMAC, this GM crop will not be grown commercially in the UK until the completion of the evaluations and only then if it is assessed as causing no unacceptable effects on the environment.

The evaluations are being undertaken by an independent research consortium and overseen by the independent Scientific Steering Committee. SCIMAC provide the fields of crops for study. The steering committee has set overall criteria for the conduct of the evaluations and requires a representative distribution of sites. SCIMAC find farmers who may be willing to host an evaluation and draw up a list of potential farms from which the researchers select sites to meet the SSC criteria. Ministers are not involved in this process.

Given the public reaction to the proposal to locate an evaluation close to Ryton Organic Gardens last spring, the Government will use their influence to seek to ensure that no FSE site is chosen in future within cross-pollution distance of Ryton Organic Gardens.