Genetically Modified Organisms

Start date
01 July 2002
04 473 3453
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Project Overview

The purpose of this project is to consider and report on issues surrounding liability for loss resulting from development, supply, or use of genetically modified organisms.

Terms of Reference 

The Law Commission will consider and report on issues surrounding liability for loss resulting from development, supply, or use of genetically modified organisms. The fundamental issue to be investigated is: 

The adequacy of current statute and common law for dealing with issues of liability for loss from genetically modified organisms. If the current law is not considered adequate, what options exist for specific liability regimes and what are their advantages and disadvantages? 

If a specific liability regime is thought to be worthy of consideration, the Law Commission will set out options, along with a preliminary assessment of their respective strengths and weaknesses. 

The following topics may need specific investigation and report: 

  • Whether liability should lie where it falls in accordance with orthodox liability criteria or whether there should be an alternative compensation scheme; 
  • The adequacy of current legal approaches to causation in the particular situation of proving the causal link between claimed harm and a 
  • genetically modified organism; 
  • The difficulties of accurate actuarial assessments;  and
  • The problems of enforcement because of the time which may elapse between act or omission and a claim of loss. 

The Law Commission will report to the Minister Responsible for the Law Commission by 17 May 2002.