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Foods made from Genetically Modified Plants

Lord Gallacher asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: The Government have accepted the advice of the Food Advisory Committee (FAC) that it

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would not be appropriate to lay down a compulsory labelling requirement as a condition of approving the three new foodstuffs made from genetically modified plants. The modifications do not involve genes that could be considered ethically sensitive according to the FAC's guidelines and no inserted genes or gene products remain present in the food product after processing. The FAC did, however, encourage the use of informative labelling on a voluntary basis in response to public interest.

Non-Human Primates: Use in Scientific Procedures

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ban the use of wild-caught non-human primates in scientific procedures and introduce further administrative controls on the use of non-human primates in such procedures.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The Government have considered recommendations from the Animal Procedures Committee on the use of non-human primates in scientific procedures and have accepted their view that it should ban the use of wild-caught non-human primates, except where a project licence applicant can establish exceptional and specific justification.

In the light of the committee's advice, we have taken a number of administrative steps to ensure the effectiveness of such a ban, we have decided that: (i) a condition will be placed on a project licence authorising the use of non-human primates, requiring records relating to the breeding and conditions of housing and husbandry at the breeding centre(s) from which animals are obtained (and in the case of wild caught animals the conditions in any holding centre) to be available for inspection by the Home Office; (ii) waivers under Section 10(3) of the 1986 Act to allow the use of purpose-bred primates from non-designated sources will be conditional upon life-time records being supplied. (iii) if the source of the animals is not known when the project licence application is prepared, or if the proposed source is likely to change, a condition will be placed on the licence that the source must be agreed by the Home Office before the animals are obtained and any procedure commences;

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(iv) the inspectorate will take into account the potential adverse effects, for example during transport, which may occur to the animals concerned before arrival in the United Kingdom; and (v) the Home Office will keep under review the availability of information about primate use, and will ensure that as much is published as is permissible within the restraints of the legislation and the need for commercial confidentiality.

We have agreed also a number of other changes to the condition upon which non-human primates may be used: (i) applicants for project licences will be required to explain clearly why only non-human primates as opposed to any other species, including man where appropriate, are considered essential for the programme of research; (ii) where applicable, the applicant will be required to provide a clear explanation in the project licence application of why the use of old-world, rather than new world, primates is proposed; (iii) procedures to be carried out using primates will be required to be described in separate protocol sheets on the project licence application, and primates must not be grouped with other species in such descriptions; (iv) when old-world non-human primates have been used under a toxicology project licence in procedures of more than mild severity, the licence holder will be required to provide a justification to the Home Office. The department will keep such use under review and report to the Animal Procedures Committee; (v) more detailed, collated data on primate use will be published either in the annual statistics of scientific procedures on living animals or in the annual report of the APC.

In the case of the requirement on the use of old-world non-human primates under toxicology project licences, we have accepted the objective of a recommendation from the Animal Procedures Committee but have taken the view that this can be achieved by alternative means. The approach to be adopted will impose less burden on the companies involved in regulatory toxicity testing, and will ensure that the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate are not diverted from their primary tasks of advising on applications for personal and project licence and visiting scientific establishments.

We have placed in the Library a copy of the committee's recommendations, and of the Home Office ministerial reply.

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