The Nuffield Council on Bioethics announced today a major new inquiry on the genetic modification of crops. The Working Party will seek the publics views in a consultation planned later in the year. Its terms of reference are:

1. To briefly review the developments on the genetic modification of crops and their impact on human food consumption and the environment.

2. To i dentify and consider the ethical and social implications of these developments including:

a. issues of food safety and public health

b. issues of environmental protection

c. the public interest and the maintenance of consumer choice and ` public confidence

d. the appropriateness of the criteria used at present by regulatory bodies in the UK and in the EU

e. the implications for less developed countries

f. the implications for farming practices and rural life

g. the implications of intellectual property issues

h. the responsibilities of scientists in advising policymakers on these issues and to make recommendations.

The Working Party expects to report early in 1999.