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Section highlightThe People’s NHS Part of an initiative to engage the public in creating a safe and sustainable health service for the future.
Spreading the word »Action on the ground to increase learning materials in the medium of Welsh.Learn more »
First Minister’s call for action on the Welsh language
People from across Wales with an interest in the Welsh language are being asked to take action on its future in a national online conversation.
- Local Government Democracy Bill approved
- Minister welcomes report which could change shape and structure of education delivery in Wales for the better
- First Minister’s call for action on the Welsh language
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Welsh languageWelsh-language technology and digital media action plan
The action plan sets out our commitment to drive developments in the field of Welsh-language technology and digital media.Learn more »
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
The Strategy for Older People in Wales 2013-2023 »The 3rd phase focuses on ensuring that older people in Wales have the resources to deal with the challenges and opportunities they face.Learn more »
- A new vision for a National Youth Work Strategy
- The future delivery of education services in Wales
- Consultation on Draft Technical Advice Note (TAN) 23 Economic Development
- Draft industrial and commercial sector plan
- Waste Prevention Programme
- Building Control system and Approved Document supporting regulation 7
In this section
Section highlightReview of the Planning Enforcement System
The research covers 18 recommendations for the future Welsh enforcement system.
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
Infrastructure Investment Case Studies »
Examples of infrastructure investment projects funded by the Welsh Government across Wales.Learn more »
Oral - GM Crops
The Welsh Assembly Government’s precautionary approach to genetically modified crop commercialisation is underlined through our 'One Wales’ commitment to maximise restrictions on GM crops in Wales. This position has been supported by a long-standing consensus across all parties in the National Assembly. Members will be familiar with the fact that we have no powers to ban GM crops and that our position has been to adopt the most restrictive policy compatible with our legal obligations.
A report by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development published in April 2008 supports a precautionary approach to GM. The report is the product of contributions from more than 400 scientists from around the world. These experts continue to debate the potential benefits and threats of GM with research showing that there have been variable yield gains and declines. The report warned that the assessment of this technology is lagging behind the process of its development, thereby increasing our uncertainty about the risks to the environment, human health and our economy.
Our precautionary approach therefore remains unchanged and, today, I am announcing my plans to undertake a full public consultation on co-existence arrangements. The European Commission has stated that no form of agriculture, whether GM, traditional, or organic, should be excluded in the European Union. I therefore intend to publish a public consultation in a few weeks’ time setting out proposals to put in place co-existence arrangements between GM, traditional and conventional crops in Wales.
Co-existence refers to the ability of farmers to make a practical choice between GM, conventional and organic crop production, in compliance with the legal obligations for labelling and purity criteria. The possibility of the presence of GM crops in conventional and organic crops cannot be dismissed, and may have commercial implications for the farmers whose crops are affected. Consequently, suitable measures during cultivation, harvest, transport, storage and processing are necessary to ensure co-existence. Co-existence measures aim to protect farmers of conventional and organic crops from the possible economic disadvantages of accidental contamination by GM crops.
Our restrictive stance on GM crop cultivation in Wales can be seen through the approach that we intend to take on the implementation of the GM aspects of the environmental liability directive. The directive is aimed at preventing significant environmental damage by forcing businesses that pollute to pay for the costs of prevention and remediation. Following our public consultation on the environmental liability directive last year, the proposals that we have made in relation to the GM aspects of the directive will shortly be put into effect through domestic legislation. This will give added protection to our environment in Wales by making the growers and biotechnology companies, namely the permit holders, responsible for any unforeseeable damage to the environment that a GM crop might cause.
The intention is for co-existence to be tightly regulated in Wales. Our proposed measures will be more restrictive than those proposed in England and Northern Ireland. I would like to take a few moments to outline some of the key features of our co-existence proposals.
On seed thresholds, we will seek views on whether the present 0.1 per cent default seed threshold should be retained, as in many EU member states, where separation distances have been established on that basis.
On liability, we will include options for imposing strict liability on GM crop growers and introducing a voluntary industry-funded compensation scheme. Consideration may also be given to an option for a statutory redress mechanism.
On GM-free zones, we will seek views on the desirability of a statutory prohibition on GM crop cultivation in all statutory conservation areas. On a GM crop register, we will propose a statutory national register with public access. To grow GM crops will require registration with the Welsh Assembly Government three months prior to planting. In addition to the implicit need for consultation with neighbours, in order to ensure compliance with separation distances, it is also proposed that there will be a statutory requirement to inform people living in the vicinity and neighbouring landowners. It is proposed that record keeping should be a statutory requirement for GM producers, as will training for all on-farm handlers who have any intent to grow GM crops.
The field measures that I will be proposing are based on our average arable field size in Wales of fewer than 3 ha. I will also propose significant isolation distances between GM and non-GM crops and buffer zones, incorporating pollen barriers or traps.
I am conscious that a growing world population, climate change and increasing food costs have given rise to concerns regarding future food security. The debate on the potential role that GM crops have to play in meeting food security has increased. I do not believe that there is any clear evidence that GM crops do have a role to play. However, all parties in the Chamber will, no doubt, be reflecting in depth on this debate.
My officials continue to liaise proactively with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in relation to the DEFRA-managed England-and-Wales research and development budget. This includes GM and sustainable food and farming programmes. My officials are also engaged with the UK Government’s Foresight programme, which includes land use and food security. The Welsh Assembly Government will continue to review evidence, as we do in all policy areas, to ensure that our approach to GM remains informed and takes into account new and emerging evidence.
Current evidence supports the continuation of a precautionary approach and it is my intention to maintain as restrictive a policy approach to GM as is possible within our legal obligations. I look forward to receiving comments on the proposals for co-existence arrangements, which will help us to put in place an appropriate regime to control any future GM crop development in Wales.