23 November 2001
HSE has today issued a Consultation Letter on an emergency amendment to the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2000 (GMO(CU)).
The amendment is needed to give the Secretary of State discretion to direct that information relating to the location of GM organisms or other types of information about GMOs should be withheld from the Public Register maintained under GMO(CU).
The proposal is put forward in the interests of national security following the terrorist attacks on New York on 11 September and subsequent requests for information on the whereabouts of (GM) anthrax in Great Britain.
The HSE has temporarily closed the Public Register held under GMO (CU). HSE plans to re-open the revised Register as soon as possible.
It is anticipated that the proposed Amending Regulations will come into force in mid- to late-January 2002. In the meantime, HSE will make information available on a case-by-case basis.
Due to the urgency of the matter, the Health and Safety Commission has agreed a two week consultation period, with consultation closing on Friday 7 December.
Copies of the Consultation Letter are available from:
Mrs Jackie Germain
Health and Safety Executive
Health Directorate B, 6th Floor, North Wing
2 Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HS
Tel: 0207 717 6348
Fax: 0207 727 6199
The Consultation Letter can also be viewed at:
Consultees should send their comments to Mrs Germain at the above address.
1. GMO(CU) is concerned with the protection of humans and the environment from genetic modification activities that are contained. That is, activities where control measures are used to limit contact between genetically modified organisms (GMOs), humans and the environment, so as to provide a high level of safety. In practice the type of activities covered includes work in laboratories, animal houses, plant growth facilities and large scale production facilities. Under GMO(CU) premises where genetically modified (GM) activities are to be carried out and activities which are classified as having some risk to humans or the environment have to be notified to a Competent Authority. In England and Wales, the Competent Authority comprises HSE, the Secretary of State and the MAFF Minister. In Scotland, the Competent Authority comprises HSE and the Scottish Ministers.
2. Regulation 24 of GMO(CU) requires the Competent Authority to maintain a Public Register to:
ensure that the public have access to information on all notified premises and activities;
give the public an opportunity to see notifications and let the Competent Authority know if they have any comments on control measures and risks of activities.
3. Copies of the Public Register are held at HSE's London and Bootle offices, and each of HSE's 6 regional offices hold copies of the section covering their region. HSE's Edinburgh office holds a copy of the part of the Register covering Scotland.
PUBLIC ENQUIRIES: Call HSE's InfoLine, tel: 08701 545500, or write to: HSE Information Services, Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly, CF83 3GG
HSE information and press releases can be accessed on the Internet at www.hse.gov.uk