Views invited on Genetically Modified crops

The Minister of the Environment has launched a consultation paper to seek views on how a new European Directive governing the deliberate release and marketing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), should be implemented in Northern Ireland.

Although GM environmental releases in Northern Ireland have been limited to one small field trial of potatoes in 1996, the Minister has claimed that it is essential that the DOE, as regulator of the system of GMO controls, ensures that public concerns are addressed and the new tighter EU regime is implemented.

Mr Foster said: “In considering how to implement the new Directive in Northern Ireland, the DOE will be looking very carefully at the question of how the public can be given greater involvement in these processes.

“The UK has one of the toughest GM regulatory regimes in the world within the existing system of controls, and this latest package of measures is designed to keep abreast of current and anticipated future developments. This remains firmly based on the scientific assessment of environmental risk but tightens many of the core elements of the existing Directive.”

Under the new EEC Directive, Member States have until October 2002 to implement the new Directive into national legislation. The Directive introduces a range of measures which, when transposed into national law, will significantly clarify, improve and strengthen the following areas. In Northern Ireland, the Department of the Environment will introduce regulations to cover those aspects of the new Directive, which are devolved.

The closing date for responses to the NI consultation exercise is 14 January 2002. A second consultation will be undertaken in the Spring of 2002 on the text of the draft legislation necessary to transpose the new Directive. (AMcE)

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