The European Commission has published interim measures for dealing with the adventitious presence of genetically modified seed in conventional seed.

Commissioner Byrne has also confirmed to Baroness Hayman, Minister of State at MAFF, that the Commission was working on proposals to amend the seeds marketing directives in respect of the adventitious presence of GM material. He has given an assurance that these legislative proposals will come forward without undue delay. He noted that the matter was complex, with a need to develop clear methodology and testing methods as well as taking into account the implications for third countries. He confirmed that he is committed to making proposals which would be enforceable.

The Government will consult widely on the Commission proposals when they are available.

Notes for Editors

1. Earlier this year it was discovered that oilseed rape imported from Canada into several countries contained GM elements. It was agreed that there was a need for the EU regulatory framework to be clarified and strengthened to deal with such cases.

2. Meanwhile, the key elements of the interim measures are:
  • Testing will apply to seeds of beet, maize, rapeseed, soya bean, cotton and tomatoes for processing, where GM presence is suspected. Member States are free to test other species.

  • A zero threshold will apply to GM material which is not covered by an EU authorisation under Part C of Directive 90/220/EEC.
    A 0.5% threshold will apply to GM material which is covered by an EU authorisation under Part C of Directive 90/220/EEC.

  • The measures apply to seeds which have been produced in the Community and to seeds from third countries.
3. The full details of the interim measures published by the Commission can be found on the web at: Hard copies can be obtained from the MAFF Press Office.

4. In the UK, the Government has in place an inspection regime to ensure compliance with GMO legislation. This includes inspections of seed imports into the UK. The Government programme for monitoring for the adventitious presence of GM material in non-GM seed is being carried out by the Central Science Laboratory in York on behalf of DETR.