Relevant authorities in the United Kingdom

The UK government has concluded that there is no scientific basis for a wholesale ban on cultivating GM crops. Rather, proposed uses need to be assessed for safety on a case-by-case basis. In addition to assessing safety, the UK government views ensuring consumers' freedom of choice as an important goal. Several institutions and authorities are responsible for regulating genetically modified organisms and co-existence.

In the UK, FSA and Defra are responsible for co-existence and traceability regulation.
In the UK, FSA and Defra are responsible for co-existence and traceability regulation.
Regulatory bodies

The UK Food Standard Agency (FSA) supports consumer choice and recognises that some consumers will want to choose not to buy or eat genetically modified foods, regardless of how carefully they are assessed for safety. The FSA along with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) consulted over a twelve-week period on draft documents describing the scope of the new rules on GMO labelling and establishing penalties for enforcing EC regulations.

The Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and subject to devolved powers, the Department for the Environment in Northern Ireland, are introducing their own regulations and guidance covering aspects of the EC directive on co-existence.

Proposals for the regulation of co-existence are currently being considered in a on-going consultation being conducted by Defra, but responsibilities have not yet been appointed.

Advisory panels

The UK government's strategic adviser for co-existence was the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC). It published a report on co-existence and liability, which has been the main driving force directing the government’s policy decisions in this area.

Plans to release genetically modified organisms into the environment are reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE), an independent scientific committee that includes leading academic scientists. ACRE's role is to advise the relevant Ministers and other bodies on environmental and human health aspects of activities involving the deliberate release of GMOs. The Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and subject to devolved powers, the Department for the Environment in Northern Ireland, are introducing their own regulations and guidance covering aspects of the EC directive on deliberate release.

The competent authority for regulating the contained use of GMOs is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

In cases where the application refers to a GMO that will be used in food or animal feed, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) and the Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs (ACAF) are also asked for their expert advice.


Regional Co-extra reporter /rapporteur:


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