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Zoonotic Disease

Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research her Department has evaluated on the zoonotic disease risks arising from the intensification of (a) meat and (b) dairy production in other countries. [38166]

Mr. Bradshaw: Defra has not specifically evaluated or commissioned work on the zoonotic disease risks arising from the intensification of meat or dairy production in other countries. However, Defra's veterinary surveillance strategy has the detection of new and emerging animal disease threats as one of its aims.

Defra collaborates closely with the Department of Health on zoonotic risks through the National Expert Panel on New and Emerging Infections. This body has within its remit the identification of emerging and potential infectious threats to public health both nationally and internationally.


Administrative Savings

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what administrative savings have been made by his Department in each of the last eight years. [34936]

Mr. Thomas: The administration costs outturn figures for DFID for the past eight years are set out in the following table:

Running costs outturnAdministration costs outturn
2004–05 (DFID resource account

[Figures for 1997–98 to 2003–04 from DR 2000, 2004, 2005.
Figure for 2004–05 from DFID resource accounts 2004–05]

Comparisons between administration budgets in 2003–04 and earlier years are not possible, due to the adoption of a new administration definition which included administration related items previously
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recorded within programme expenditure. The new definition improves transparency and management of administration costs.

Since 1997 the overseas budget has increased significantly, DFID's resource Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) increased by 50.8 per cent. between 1998–99 and 2004–05. Over the same period, the administration budget has grown modestly to support the expanding programme.

Under the SR04 Efficiency Programme, DFID will be saving £20 million in administration costs by 2007–08 (in 2007–08 prices) over a baseline of the 2005–06 budget. Headcount reductions and relocations contribute towards this, as does a reduction of the support services budget by £4.2 million, taking into account inflation, by 2007–08, over the same baseline. Further details can be found in DFID's Efficiency Technical Note, available on the DFID website address at


Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government are taking in Afghanistan to provide alternative poppy cultivation; and what progress is being made. [38893]

Hilary Benn: DFID leads the Government's efforts to develop alternative livelihoods in Afghanistan. In financial year 2005–06, DFID is spending over £45 million on alternative livelihoods. This is almost a tenfold increase on the amount spent in 2003–04.

DFID's assistance is closely aligned with the Government of Afghanistan's leadership on alternative livelihoods. DFID has invested a £27 million in quick impact alternative livelihoods this year. This is going through the Afghan Government's National Priority Programmes. This support will provide over 3 million labour days; access to microfinance for over 20,000 new clients including opium debt refinancing; and support for local infrastructure development to 150 villages.

DFID funding also helps improve long-term agricultural opportunities for Afghan farmers. DFID is contributing a joint US$30 million nationwide programme with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to increase access for over 500,000 farmers to seeds and fertiliser as an alternative to poppy. Innovative ways for farmers to make a living are also being pursued, including apricot drying, honey bee keeping, tailoring and weaving and the introduction of fruit tree nurseries and greenhouses for vegetable production.

At the same time as developing agricultural opportunities, it is important to develop non-farm alternative livelihoods if we are to ensure longer term sustainability. DFID activities in Badakshan and Eastern Hazarajat provinces are developing sustainable economic alternatives and social incentives to enable farmers to stop growing poppy.

Food Emergencies

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 27 October 2005, Official Report, column 513W, on food emergencies, what recent assessments his Department
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has made of food emergencies in (a) Angola, (b) Burkina Faso, (c) Burundi, (d) Chad, (e) the Central African Republic, (f) the Democratic Republic of Congo, (g) Cote d'Ivoire, (h) Eritrea, (i) Ethiopia, (j) Guinea, (k) Kenya, (l) Lesotho, (m) Liberia, (n) Malawi, (o) Mali, (p) Mauritania, (q) Niger, (r) Sierra Leone, (s) Somalia, (t) Sudan, (u) Swaziland, (v) Tanzania, (w) Uganda and (x) Zimbabwe. [37433]

Hilary Benn: DFID routinely monitors the humanitarian situation across Africa, and follows up on reports of significantly changes with more detailed assessments. In most of these countries the situation remains largely unchanged since our October analysis, with the exception of Southern Africa and Somalia, where the situation has recently deteriorated.

In Southern Africa, DFID's assessment is that 11.4 million people are facing food shortages and are in need of assistance. As a result, our humanitarian commitment to the affected countries in the region has recently increased to £64 million. This includes £18.2 million to Malawi, £41 million to Zimbabwe, £350,000 to Lesotho, and £300,000 to Swaziland.

In Somalia, the drought continues to intensify, affecting up to 400,000 people and resulting in very high rates of malnutrition in some areas. To respond, DFID has recently allocated £1 million to the World Food Programme's emergency operation in Somalia.

Angola, which was not covered in the response provided on 27 October 2005, is not facing a food emergency, having benefited from a record harvest in 2005. However, pockets of vulnerable and food-insecure people remain, particularly recently repatriated refugees, and aspects of DFID's £6 million humanitarian assistance to Angola over the last two years have been geared to meeting their needs.

GM Crops

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the effects on developing countries of golden rice; [38757]

(2) what assessment he has made of the economic impact of growing genetically modified crops in developing countries; [38758]

(3) what assessment he has made of the impact of biotechnology companies' contracts on seed sharing and saving in developing countries. [38759]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 19 December 2205]: The Nuffield Council on Bioethics report (2004) provided a review of the actual and potential benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops for developing countries. The Government shares the report's conclusions that achieving food security and reducing poverty in developing countries are complex issues, that GM crops are unlikely to feed the world, but that in some circumstances they could make a useful contribution to improving the livelihoods of poor people in developing countries.

In 2000, DFID funded a study on the development of methodologies for assessing the impacts of modern agricultural biotechnology on poor people. DFID has not made specific assessments on the benefits or
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potential problems of golden rice or the impact of biotechnology companies on seed sharing and saving in developing countries.

DFID takes genetic modification in crops and foods and its potential impacts on developing countries very seriously. Our approach is based on the principle that the health of people and their environment is of primary concern. We recognise that GM technology in itself will not solve the problem of world hunger. It can, however, be used safely and effectively to promote development and reduce poverty, if managed responsibly and applied to those crops on which the poor rely.

Recognising that there are both potential benefits and risks associated with GM crops, developing countries should be able to make their own informed choices about whether to adopt GM technologies. To this end, DFID worked with The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and other Government Departments to establish the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Protocol aims to ensure that countries are provided with the information necessary to make informed decisions before agreeing to the import of genetically modified organisms. It also facilitates the exchange of information on living modified organisms and assists countries in the implementation of the Protocol. The Protocol has a strong precautionary approach. This means that importing countries are able to make a decision to avoid or minimise potential adverse effects of GM organisms, even if there is a lack of scientific certainty on the extent of such potential adverse effects.

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