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Joan Ruddock: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what his policy is in relation to the endocrine disrupting pesticides listed by the European Commission and reported upon by the Royal Society in June 2000. 
Ms Quin: We are playing a major role in the EU programme to review all substances used as plant protection products which includes those listed by the EU Commission as endocrine disrupting pesticides. This review programme will ensure the safety of all plant protection products as regards workers, consumers and the environment. Any substance failing to meet the high standards of safety demanded will be withdrawn from the market; 18 already have been or are being withdrawn.
Mr. Gale: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of controls over the (1) importing of bushmeat hand-carried by visitors to the United Kingdom; 
Ms Quin [holding answers 19 March 2001]: It is illegal for individuals to import fresh meat from third countries into the United Kingdom unless it is fully cooked in a hermetically sealed container and weighs no more than 1kg.
This applies equally to 'wild game meat' which we take to include bushmeat although there is no working definition of the latter term. Where we have advised of the possibility of illegal imports of meat, the relevant enforcement authorities have been alerted and the appropriate action taken. Where illegal meat has been identified, it has been seized and destroyed. No single assessment of the effectiveness of these procedures, based
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Mr. Swayne: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment has been made of the impact on the horticultural industry of the withdrawal of Dichlorvos; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Quin: The Advisory Committee on Pesticides is to consider the review of dichlorvos at its next meeting on 5 April 2001. To assist the Committee in its task it will be informed of the implications for growers were dichlorvos to be lost.
Mr. Beith: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, for the duration of the foot and mouth restrictions, he will delay the implementation of the EU scheme for sampling all bovine carcases of animals more than 30-months-old; what modifications have been made to the scheme following his discussions with farming, trade and hunt kennel representatives; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 20 March 2001]: We will shortly be consulting publicly with interested organisations on our proposals and will take account of comments received before reaching final decisions.
Mr. Flynn: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what changes have taken place in each of the past 15 years in the number of farming bankruptcies; what percentage such changes represented in each year of the total number of farmers; and what the percentage change in each year was. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 20 March 2001]: Data on farming bankruptcies for England and Wales and what percentage of farmers, partners and directors this represents are given in the table (data solely on the number of farmer are not available). The last year for which bankruptcy figures are available for the whole year is 1999 1 . Figures for the first three quarters of last year show a decrease in total farming bankruptcies of 10 per cent. on the same period in 1999.
|England and Wales 1986 to 2000|
|Year||Total bankruptcies||Bankruptcies as a proportion of farmers(42)||Annual change in bankruptcies|
(41) Includes bankruptcies of self-employed individuals and company insolvencies (Source: Department of Trade and Industry)
(42) Includes directors and business partners who also work on farm holdings (Source: June Agricultural and Horticultural Census). Data from 1998 onwards are not comparable to those for earlier years due to fundamental changes to the labour questions in the Agricultural and Horticultural Census
(43) First three quarters only
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Mr. Cousins: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what guidance he has given on the use of avilamycin in animals intended for human consumption; and what the possible consequences for human antibiotic protection are. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 22 March 2001]: Avilamycin is an anti-microbial growth promoter authorised throughout the European Union as a feed additive under Directive 70/524/EC. This Directive includes a provision that before a feed additive can be authorised it must be shown not to adversely affect human health, animal health or the environment at the level permitted in feedingstuffs.
Avilamycin is in a class of antibiotics that are not currently authorised for use as human medicines nor does it select for cross-resistance to any currently authorised human antimicrobial. In any future discussions on the use of avilamycin, the Government will continue to be guided by the principles established in the Report of the Joint Committee on the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry and veterinary medicines (The Swann Report) of 1969. This report proposed that antibiotics authorised for growth promotion should be restricted to those which have little or no application as therapeutic agents in man or animals, and which will not impair the efficacy of prescribed therapeutic drugs through the development of resistant strains of organisms.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what scientific research into the phenomenon of gene stacking in genetically modified crops in natural conditions (a) he has evaluated and (b) has been brought to the attention of (i) ACRE and (ii) ACNFP; and when. 
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Gene stacking refers to plants with traits from more than one genetic modification which may be developed intentionally or created unintentionally in the environment through cross-pollination between two different genetically modified (GM) plants.
The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) always considers any risks associated with gene stacking when it advises on the release or marketing of GM plants. ACRE assesses the potential for gene stacking to occur both in neighbouring crops of the same or sexually compatible species and in compatible wild plants at or around the release site. The potential for gene stacking is well controlled for research releases of GM plants and for the few GM crops which have Europe-wide approval for placing on the market. However the regulatory authorities both here and in the European Union are aware that the potential for gene stacking will increase should there be widespread cultivation of GM crops and the implications must be well understood.
ACRE considered the potential problems of both intentional and unintentional gene stacking in 1998 and have kept abreast of developments. There are relatively few scientific reports of this phenomenon occurring in natural conditions, but my Department has funded its own research on the implications of gene stacking for risk assessment. A scientific report commissioned from the John Innes Centre entitled 'impact of multiple herbicide tolerance in GM plants' is in the final stages of preparation and will be published shortly. ACRE is aware of this study and will advise on its implications and whether further work is needed.
The extent to which gene stacking could impact on food safety is an issue for the Food Standards Agency and the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP). Any GM crop that is to be used for food production must be considered for approval under the EC Novel Foods Regulation (EC 258-97). The ACNFP is aware of a number of applications for GM crops containing stacked genes which are currently being considered under the EC Novel Foods Regulation by other Member States. Each of these applications will be considered in due course by the ACNFP on a case by case basis.
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