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Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey: Pipeline

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Governments of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey have entered into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with each other. The three governments have entered into host government agreements (HGAs) with the consortium, BTC Co.

All three governments have enacted the HGAs into their respective domestic law. Her Majesty's Government and their legal advisers are reviewing the HGAs.

No decision on ECGD cover has been taken. ECGD cover would only be given to any UK exporters and investors involved in this project if the department were satisfied that the relevant environmental, social and human rights impacts had been properly addressed, and that the financial and project risks were acceptable.

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Tuberculosis: Wild Animals

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What guidance they have issued with regard to the notification of tuberculosis in wild animals, especially deer; and if none, whether they intend to issue such guidance.[HL3914]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): Discussions with stakeholders on arrangements for notifying TB, including in wild deer, took place when the Tuberculosis (Deer) Order 1989 came into force. This has resulted in guidance on the notification of TB, or suspected TB, in deer carcases in, for instance, the Meat Hygiene Service operations manual and the National Trust document Management of Deer on National Trust Land.

Guidance on notification of TB in deer for State Veterinary Service (SVS) personnel is provided in the SVS field service manual. If a wild deer is confirmed as having bovine TB, the SVS divisional veterinary manager (DVM) will decide on the appropriate action. If the deer was found in an area where cattle are not tested annually, the DVM may decide to increase the cattle testing frequency in that area.

TB is not notifiable in other wild animal species.

Genetically Modified Crops: Unauthorised Cultivation

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether British farmers could be sued or prosecuted for having, without intent, genetically modified plants among their crops, as is the case in Canada; and, if so, what steps they intend to take to prevent this.[HL3944]

Lord Whitty: No genetically modified plant may be cultivated in the UK or the EU unless it is authorised for such use on safety grounds under European Directive 2001/18/EC. A GM plant may also need authorisation under EU seeds, novel foods and/or pesticides legislation as appropriate. In the case of authorised GM plants being used in accordance with the terms of the relevant consents, a farmer would not commit a statutory offence by cultivating such plants, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

If it were suspected that unauthorised GM plants were being cultivated by a farmer, the relevant authorities would decide in each case whether they considered an offence to have been committed, and whether to prosecute. If the farmer in question could show that the unauthorised cultivation had occurred without his or her knowledge or intent, and that they had had no reason to expect this, this would be taken into account in deciding whether or not to prosecute. It would be an absolute defence to prosecution for the farmer to show that he had taken all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid

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commission of the offence. If there was a prosecution, it would be for the trial court to determine whether an offence had in fact occurred.

The possibility of a successful civil legal action—for example by a seed company against a farmer—would depend on demonstrating to the satisfaction of a court that a legal duty owed by one person to another had been breached. The act of accidentally planting an authorised GM plant would only therefore give rise to such an action if, in the circumstances of the particular case, that also resulted in the farmer breaching some other legal duty owed to another person. It would be for the parties concerned to decide, on the basis of their legal advice, whether to commence legal proceedings on that basis and it would be for the courts to decide on the outcome of those proceedings.

The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission is due to submit a report to the Government this summer that explores the issue of liability in relation to GM crops. We will assess the possible need for further action in this area in the light of that report.

Cetacean Bycatch

Lord Eden of Winton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the publication of the United Kingdom cetacean bycatch response strategy, what progress has been made with each of the recommendations as set out in Section 7 of that document.[HL4013]

Lord Whitty: The 12 week public consultation period on the UK Small Cetacean bycatch response strategy concluded on 13 June. The Government are currently analysing the responses received to the proposals set out in the strategy, with a view to taking decisions on the way forward later this year. Some work programmes in support of the strategy, such as research trials into use of separator grids and other net modifications aimed at reducing cetacean bycatch, are ongoing.

Local food

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the objectives of the policy report for Ministers which is being prepared by the Local Food Sub-Group of the Working Group on Regional Food, led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and[HL4016]

    What consultation with, and involvement of, the groups of the local food sector are to take place to inform developing policy for the report which is being prepared by the Local Food Sub-Group of the Working Group on Regional Food, led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and[HL4017]

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    What role the Department of Health is playing in the preparation of the report by the Local Food Sub-Group of the Working Group on Regional Food, led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and[HL4018]

    What advice they have taken from Food Links UK in particular and local food projects in general on translating Local Food—A Snapshot of the Sector into policy; and[HL4020]

    What timescale has been agreed for the consultation on, and production of, the report being prepared by the Local Food Sub-Group of the Working Group on Regional Food, led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[HL4021]

Lord Whitty The Curry commission report stated that one of the greatest opportunities for farmers to add value to their output was to build on the public's enthusiasm for locally produced food or food with a clear regional provenance. In response to this and building on the section on local food in the Government's wider Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food Defra has produced a local food policy paper ( which looks at the claimed benefits of the local food sector and the rationale for public support, and sets out the framework within which such support will be given. To encourage the sector to develop Defra will focus its efforts where it can add value at national level, principally through national grant schemes, its public procurement initiative and spreading best local food practice nationwide. At a regional level the regional development agencies (RDAs) will endeavour to ensure there is properly co-ordinated public sector support for local food initiatives within their area and seek to address the problems of infrastructure which are hampering the development of the local food sector. Details of these measures will be contained in the regional plans which the RDAs are developing as part of the overarching delivery plan for the Government's Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food.

Defra will liaise with other government departments on initiatives led by them which, while not focused exclusively on local food, have an impact on the local food sector. In the case of the Department of Health this includes the National School Fruit Scheme, the "Five a Day" community initiatives and the Food and Health Action Plan.

The local food policy paper was drawn up by the department following a series of meetings of the Defra Cross-Cutting Group on Regional Food. This group brings together RDAs, Government Offices of the Regions, the Countryside Agency, Food from Britain and the Food Standards Agency. To help inform its thinking the cross-cutting group commissioned a cross-departmental Local Food Working Group to carry out a detailed examination of the local food

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sector. The subsequent report, Local food—A snapshot of the Sector ( was published on 9 April.

In compiling its report, the Working Group on Local Food sought to review all the available evidence and to gather as many views as possible from a wide breadth of stakeholders. A written consultation of over 500 stakeholders was carried out, including Food Links UK and its constituent members. The group also made visits to the local food sector in all the administrative regions of England. Many of these visits were facilitated by representatives from the various regional Food Links organisations. The working group also held a one-day workshop to enable a range of players and commentators in the local good arena to have an in-depth debate about the sector.

Finally, in drawing up the local food policy paper, we also took into account the recommendations of the Curry commission (themselves based on extensive consultation), together with the submissions which we received from over 1,000 organisations during the separate consultation exercise which the department carried out on the question of how to respond to the Curry recommendations.

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