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The Genetically Modified Organisms (Northern Ireland) Order 1991

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Meaning of “damage to the environment”, “control” and related expressions

4.—(1) Paragraphs (2) to (11) have effect for the interpretation of this Order.

(2) The “environment” consists of land, air and water or any of those media.

(3) “Damage to the environment” is caused by the presence in the environment of genetically modified organisms which have (or of a single such organism which has) escaped or been released from a person’s control and are (or is) capable of causing harm to the living organisms supported by the environment.

(4) An organism shall be regarded as present in the environment notwithstanding that it is present in or on any human or other organism, or any other thing, which is itself present in the environment.

(5) Genetically modified organisms present in the environment are capable of causing harm if—

(a)they are individually capable, or are present in numbers such that together they are capable, of causing harm; or

(b)they are able to produce descendants which will be capable, or which will be present in numbers such that together they will be capable, of causing harm;

and a single organism is capable of causing harm either if it is itself capable of causing harm or if it is able to produce descendants which will be so capable.

(6) “Harm” means harm to the health of humans or other living organisms or other interference with the ecological systems of which they form part and, in the case of man, includes offence caused to any of his senses or harm to his property.

(7) “Harmful” and “harmless” mean respectively, in relation to genetically modified organisms, their being capable or their being incapable of causing harm.

(8) The Department may by regulations provide, in relation to genetically modified organisms of any description specified in the regulations, that—

(a)the capacity of those organisms for causing harm of any description so specified, or

(b)harm of any description so specified,

shall be disregarded for such purposes of this Order as may be so specified.

(9) Organisms of any description are under the “control” of a person where he keeps them contained by any system of physical, chemical or biological barriers (or combination of such barriers) used for either or both of the following purposes, namely—

(a)for ensuring that the organisms do not enter the environment or produce descendants which are not so contained; or

(b)for ensuring that any of the organisms which do enter the environment, or any descendants of the organisms which are not so contained, are harmless.

(10) An organism under a person’s control is “released” if he deliberately causes or permits it to cease to be under his control or the control of any other person and to enter the environment; and such an organism “escapes” if, otherwise than by being released, it ceases to be under his control or that of any other person and enters the environment.

(11) Genetically modified organisms of any description are “marketed” when products consisting of or including such organisms are placed on the market.

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