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Health Food Products: EU Labelling Proposals

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Food Standards Agency has made specific representations to the European Commission arguing for the establishment of an effective and practical system for the verification and approval of health claims at European Union level. It has made the case

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for allowing valid disease risk reduction claims as an integral part of these arrangements. These initiatives form part of the Food Standards Agency's wide-reaching Food Labelling Action Plan to improve the quality and clarity of information available to consumers. Copies are available in the Library.

I understand the Commission is now reviewing this area of legislation with a view to making proposals later this year.

Milk Imports from France

Viscount Allenby of Megiddo asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many litres of milk have been imported from France since 1 April 2000.[HL485]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Provisional Overseas Trade Statistics show that 4.9 million litres of liquid milk were imported from France from 1 April to 31 October 2000, the latest month for which figures are available.

The latest figures, given in the table below, show that the quantity of milk imported from France, expressed as a proportion of UK production of raw milk in the period April to October 2000, was lower than in the same period of the previous year. The quantities of milk imported from France are very small, amounting to less than 0.1 per cent when compared to UK production.

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Imports of milk from France(1) million litresUK production of raw milk(2) million litres% of French imports to UK production
Apr-Oct 19997.78,4960.09%
Apr-Oct 2000(3)4.98,1660.06%

(1) Source: Overseas Trade Statistics.

(2) Includes wholesale and direct sale milk production.

Source: Intervention Board, MAFF.

(3) Provisional.

Viscount Allenby of Megiddo asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether milk imported from France meets the same standards in every respect as required for milk produced in the United Kingdom.[HL486]

Baroness Hayman: The European Union lays down rules on hygiene and composition for milk. Products must comply with these rules in order to be traded in the single market. Over and above those rules, buyers may choose to apply stricter criteria based on commercial considerations.

GM Farm-scale Evaluations

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What separation distances will apply to the GM farm-scale evaluations this spring.[HL619]

Baroness Hayman: Following the scientific review and public consultation on separation distances that the ministry commissioned last year, Ministers have asked the industry representative body, SCIMAC, to apply the separation distances set out in the following

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table for the spring farm-scale evaluations this year. These include changes to the distance for varietal associations and partially restored hybrids of oilseed rape (increased from 50 to 100 metres) and the distance for conventional forage maize (increased from 50 to 80 metres).

The purpose of the separation distances is to help ensure that any possible cross-pollination with nearby compatible crops is minimised. Based on best scientific data currently available, the distances in the attached table should ensure that if any cross-pollination does occur, the resulting GM presence in neighbouring crops would be extremely low. The separation distances agreed should reduce cross-pollination to a maximum of 1 per cent for any crop and considerably below this maximum in most cases. A background note on the separation distances has been placed in the Library of the House.

The distances in question apply for the purposes of the spring 2001 farm-scale evaluations only and will be kept under review for future plantings.

Steps are being taken to strengthen early communication at local level with farmers in the vicinity of FSE sites. All farmers hosting trials are being given clear guidance by SCIMAC that they should discuss their cropping plans at the earliest possible opportunity beforehand with their immediate neighbours. Ministers are also encouraging early dialogue at local level between FSE operators and all relevant local organic growers, and have asked SCIMAC to work closely with certified seed producers to ensure that current and any prospective EU standards for certified seed can continue to be met. MAFF is arranging a meeting with beekeeping organisations and SCIMAC to discuss specific issues affecting local beekeepers. Communication with local farmers will begin in advance of final decision-making and formal public notification to allow as much time as possible for any potential difficulties to be resolved.

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Revised SCIMAC Guidelines for Crop Separation Distances Spring 2001

CropCertified seed crops (same species, all varieties)Registered organic crops (same species, all varieties)Non-seed/Non-organic ('ordinary') crops (same species)
Oilseed rape200m200mConventional varieties and restored hybrids50m
Varietal Association and partially restored hybrids100m(4)
Sugar beet600m600mall varieties6m(5)
Fodder beet600m600mall varieties6m(5)
forage maize80m


(4) Varietal associations have a proportion of male sterile plants, which means those plants do not self-pollinate and are therefore more susceptible to pollination by nearby rapeseed plants. The separation distance is greater than for conventional varieties to take account of this fact.

(5) As only the maternal plant tissues are used, cross-pollination will not affect the produce of non-seed crops. All bolters must be removed from the farm-scale trial crop so that pollen is not released.

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