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Each genetically modified food is assessed for safety on a case by case basis before it is approved for marketing. This includes a consideration of the genetic modification itself and resulting protein and toxicology, nutrition and allergenicity studies. A wide range of safety data on GM maize MON863 was assessed by the European Food Safety Authority's genetically modified organism panel, which concluded that the maize would have no adverse effect on human health. This conclusion was endorsed by the United Kingdom advisory committee on novel foods and processes.
The independent advisory committee on pesticides (ACP) provides authoritative advice to government on all aspects of pesticides. Last November,
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the ACP considered a report produced by its medical and toxicology panel on the possible links between pesticides and Parkinson's disease. At its meeting, the ACP concluded that, although this review indicated a correlation between recalled pesticide exposure and Parkinson's disease, it did not point to a particular toxic mechanism or a hazard from a specific compound or group of compounds.
However, the ACP did advise that further mechanistic and epidemiological research be carried out on the association between pesticide exposure and Parkinson's disease. The tender process has been organised by the pesticides safety directorate and has now finished. The research proposals are currently being peer reviewed with a view to the work being commissioned later this year.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions her Department has had with the Department for Education and Skills on the setting of higher nutritional standards for school meals. 
Caroline Flint: The Department for Education and Skills is leading on work to improve the school meals standards. The Department is supporting this work and Ministers and officials from both Departments have met regularly to discuss the setting of higher nutritional standards for school meals.
Caroline Flint: There are no plans to extend the scope of the current welfare food scheme tokens or the new healthy start vouchers to include soya based milk products. Expert advice from the committee on medical aspects of food policy concludes that soya milk is not as nutritionally adequate for infants and young children as cow's milk.
This is because soya based milk products are lower in energy than cow's milk, lack sufficient amounts of several vitamins and minerals, especially iron and zinc and are particularly low in calcium unless fortified.
Where a child has a diagnosed intolerance to cows milk a doctor may prescribe a suitable alternative. Prescriptions are, of course, free for children and those in receipt of income support.
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With the inclusion of fresh fruit and vegetables to healthy start the scheme will, as well as providing greater nutritional choice, accommodate the needs of those with an intolerance to cow's milk and the dietary choices of vegetarians and vegans.
Mr. Woodward: In Northern Ireland, patients with suspected breast cancer are expected to be assessed by a specialist within two weeks of urgent referral by their GP. This two-week target for breast cancer patients has been in place since 1 August 2000. There are no formal targets for treatment time, but on the basis of the latest available information the vast majority of breast cancer patients receive treatment within six weeks of their diagnosis.
Angela E. Smith:
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was very pleased, so early in his new role, to have the opportunity to meet the Taoiseach and the Heads of the other BIC Administrations. They considered the subject of
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Telemedicine and its potential to assist in the delivery of health and social care across all member administrations.
The summit was highly successful and a copy of the official communique" detailing the discussions which occurred at the meeting has been placed in the Library of the House. It is also available at the following website address; http://www.britishirishcouncil.org/documents/iom_summit.asp
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many patients from Northern Ireland had cardiac surgery performed outside the Province in each of the last five years. 
|Number of patients treated outside Northern Ireland|
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people are employed within the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland, broken down by area of responsibility. 
|Head of group||Area of responsibility||Number of staff|
|Permanent Secretary||Office of the Permanent Secretary||13|
|Deputy Secretary, Resources and Performance Management Group||Internal Audit Hyponatraemia Inquiry||18|
|Personnel and Corporate Services||141|
|Information and Analysis||26|
|Planning and Performance Management||27|
|Deputy Secretary, Strategic Planning and Modernisation Group||2|
|Regional Strategy and Public Safety Directorate||30|
|Directorate of Information Systems||202|
|Deputy Secretary, Primary, Secondary and Community Care Group||2|
|Mental Health and Disability Services||24|
|Family and Elderly Care Directorate||27|
|Chief Medical Officer||Medical and Allied Services||26|
|Medical Support Services||4|
|Occupational Health Service||29|
|Employment Medical Advice||1|
|Workforce Acute Services||1|
|Chief Nursing Officer||Nursing and Midwifery Advisory Group||12|
|Social Services Inspectorate||Social Services Inspectorate||22|
|Chief Dental Officer||Dental Services Group||9|
|Chief Pharmaceutical Officer||Pharmaceutical Advice and Services Group||11|
|Chief Executive, Health Estates Agency||Chief Executive and Corporate Services||17|
|Mental Health Commission||10|
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