LONDON (B)--The newly formed Agriculture and Environment Committee, formed to advise the British government on ethical and acceptability issues surrounding biotechnology, is to look into public acceptance on seed purity, an official from the commission told BridgeNews June 27.

"Dr Mo Mowlam (U.K. cabinet minister) has written to the committee and asked them to look into this issue as part of their work plan," the official said. He conceded that seed purity was introduced as an issue in light of the events surrounding the accidental import and planting of oilseed rape containing genetically modified material in several European countries--including the United Kingdom.

The commission's remit is to give strategic advice, which is particularly pertinent, given that the EU is currently in discussion over a suggested GM seed tolerance level of 0.5% in conventional seeds.

If the EU fails to agree on a level quickly, then individual countries may be moved to set their own level. The official said it was too early to comment on what the British government might do with AEBC advice on the issue.

AEBC is due to hold its first meeting on July 6.

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