|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
12 Jan 2004 : Column 496Wcontinued
Mr. Bradshaw: There is little published information on this in the scientific literature, but what there is, suggests that avoidance of fishing gear by cod is largely a visual response. The escape characteristic of cod will vary between day and night, with avoidance being in either a vertical or a horizontal direction. Generally, fishing gears are rigged to reduce such escapements. In the case of bottom gears, for example, the warps tend
12 Jan 2004 : Column 497W
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average fruit and vegetable consumption was in the (a) 50 most deprived and (b) 50 most affluent wards in England in the last year for which figures are available; and what the average for England was. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Data from the Expenditure and Food Survey on fruit and vegetable consumption is not available at ward level. However, fruit and vegetable consumption is available by income quintile for households in the United Kingdom for the 12 months from April 2001 to March 2002.
Average consumption of fruit and vegetables in the 20 per cent. of households with the lowest incomes was 2,622g per person per week, compared to 3,651g per person per week in the 20 per cent. of households with the highest incomes.
|Grams per person||Household income|
|per week||Lowest 20 per cent.||Highest 20 per cent.|
|Fruit and vegetables||2,622||3,651|
|Fruit and vegetables(1)||1,667||2,947|
(1) Excluding potatoes
Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of whether the pesticide regimes which may be approved for the cultivation of Chardon LL maize will be more aggressive than the regime adopted in the farm scale evaluation trials. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 January 2004]: Under Directive 2001/18/EC, the management practices associated with the cultivation of GM crops must be assessed for their environmental impact. Consequently, my Department will seek advice from the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) as to whether the evidence provided by applicants about the specific management practices associated with a GM crop present an increased likelihood of adversely affecting the environment as compared to conventional practices associated with the cultivation of its non-GM counterpart. It would also be within the scope of Directive 2001/18/EC to include conditions to the consent that circumscribed the herbicide regime permitted, if this was felt to be appropriate. The farm scale evaluations provide important data with respect to current management practices, which will be invaluable in making this assessment.
The data from the farm scale evaluation trials will, alongside other relevant data, also be considered as part of the scientific evaluation of any application for a commercial level of approval for the use of glufosinate ammonium on Chardon LL maize. Only if Ministers are satisfied, on the basis of the expert advice of the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides, that
12 Jan 2004 : Column 498W
the particular use as proposed by the applicant on the draft product label is safe to people and the environment will approval be granted.
Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government's investigations have produced evidence to indicate that GM technology should now be released commercially. 
Mr. Morley: Under Directive 2001/18/EC each application to release GM crops for commercial importation or cultivation is judged on a case-by-case basis according to the scientific evidence of any risks it may pose to human health or the environment. A person or company wishing to market such a GM crop must supply a detailed dossier of information including an environmental risk assessment on that GM crop. This information is open to scrutiny by all 15 member states and the European Commission, and an EU-wide public consultation must be held. In considering any application, the Government will consider all relevant evidence including results of its own investigations, for example including the Farm Scale Evaluations. No GM crop may be imported or grown commercially unless and until EU member states have agreed collectively under qualified majority procedures that it is safe. Once a GMO has the suitable consent, it can be imported and, if the consent conditions permit, cultivated within the EU, subject to other applicable legislation on seeds, pesticides and novel food and (animal) feed. No GM crop currently has all the required approvals for UK cultivation.
Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with insurance providers for non GM farmers who might be commercially damaged by GM contamination. 
Mr. Morley: We have not had any discussions with insurance providers on this subject. The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission has submitted a report to the Government on co-existence and liability issues in relation to GM crops and we are now considering this very carefully.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures can be taken to alleviate the contamination from sewers and septic tanks which take place after groundwater flooding. 
Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency works closely with local authorities, water companies and other groups to ensure that the effects of flooding are, as far as possible, minimised. Proper maintenance and siting of sewers and septic tanks, and monitoring of groundwater levels, can help reduce the risks, though during a flood event itself there is little that can practically be done apart from ensuring that any sewage pumping does not contribute to contamination, that the situation is properly monitored, and that those affected are informed of the situation and risks. The Department has been working with the Environment Agency and others to produce a groundwater protection code of practice
12 Jan 2004 : Column 499W
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list information technology contracts in her Department and its predecessors with a value of above £20 million in each of the last 10 years; what the inception date for each system was; when it became fully functional; when it became fully debugged; and what the cost of over-runs has been. 
Alun Michael: The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs was established as a new Department in June 2001. At its inception, the Department novated existing MAFF framework contracts set up in 1999 with three major suppliers, Fujitsu, Sema UK Ltd. and Sungard Sherwood Systems Group Ltd. who have provided consultants to work with in-house staff for system development. No single system has cost of more than £20 million.
The Rural Payments Agency signed a £35 million seven year contract with Accenture on 31 January 2003 for the development of systems to deliver payments to farmers and traders under the Common Agricultural Policy. The systems are still in the development phase and are scheduled to become operational during 2005, after which the contract allows for a period of support and maintenance.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much her Department is spending on the assessment of possible environmental impacts resulting from the release of nanotechnology products into the environment, with particular reference to ultra-fine particles. 
Mr. Morley: The Department does not currently fund any research into assessment of the possible environmental impacts resulting from the release of specifically nanotechnology-based products into the environment. Most regulation to protect the environment is based on product or use categories and would therefore cover such a release, whether or not based on nanotechnology.
However, in order to find out whether the technology raises new ethical, health and safety, environmental or social issues that have not already been covered by current regulations, last year the Department of Trade and Industry commissioned the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering to conduct an independent study to look at current and future developments in nanotechnology. We will examine carefully the conclusions of this study, expected in spring this year, to see whether there are any gaps that will need to be filled.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) environmental and (b) toxicological data is held by her Department in respect of carbon nanotubes present in consumer goods. 
12 Jan 2004 : Column 500W
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the application of the precautionary principle to the decision on whether to impose a moratorium on the release into the environment of ultra-fine particles generated through nanotechnology processes. 
Mr. Morley: Precautionary action must be based on objective assessments of the costs and benefits of action. The precautionary principle does not mean that we only permit activities if we are sure that serious harm will not arise, or there is proof that the benefits outweigh all possible risks. Most regulation to protect the environment is based on product or use categories and would therefore cover such a release, whether or not based on nanotechnology processes. We therefore do not consider that there is currently a case for a blanket moratorium on such releases, but we are keeping this under review, in particular via the independent study being carried out for the Department of Trade and Industry by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|