10 Sep 2003 12:45 PM

Prof Christopher Pollock CBE, Research Director of the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, Aberystwyth, is to be the new Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE). Environment Minister, Elliot Morley, has today made the appointment following an open competition and in agreement with Ministers in the Devolved Administrations and Northern Ireland.

ACRE advises the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations on risks to human health and the environment from the release and marketing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) including GM crops.

Mr Morley said:

"I welcome Chris Pollock's appointment as the new chairman of ACRE. He has already served on ACRE for four years as a dedicated and effective member and I am confident he has the skills needed to take on the additional responsibilities as chairman.

"ACRE members are highly regarded scientists and technical experts. I am confident that under Chris Pollock ACRE will continue to provide the high quality independent advice my colleagues and I require to make sound decisions based on scientific evidence. I know ACRE members have to work very hard and I appreciate their dedication."

Professor Pollock said:

"I am delighted to have this opportunity to chair ACRE. I have found my time on the committee enjoyable and stimulating and I am keen to take on the challenge of steering ACRE over the next three years, when some very important decisions will be made about the future of genetic modification."

For the past four years Professor Pollock has chaired the independent Scientific Steering Committee overseeing the farm scale evaluations of GM crops. ACRE expects to consider the results of the evaluations when they are published later this autumn and will advise Ministers on the environmental implications of the proposed commercial cultivation of these GM crops. ACRE has decided that Deputy Chairman, Professor Jules Pretty, will take the chair for ACRE's deliberations of the farm scale evaluations results. Professor Pretty will also chair the ACRE stakeholder meetings in London and Edinburgh. This will enable Professor Pollock, as chair of the Scientific Steering Committee, to attend the meetings to discuss the results and their implications, but ACRE's advice will be drawn up by the other members and delivered to ministers through the Deputy Chairman, Jules Pretty.

Elliot Morley has also taken this opportunity to thank Professor Alan Gray, who has retired after four years as Chairman of ACRE, and two other members, Professor Phil Mullineaux and Professor Janet Bainbridge, who have recently left the committee. He said:

"My fellow Ministers and I are very grateful for their contribution to ACRE. We would also like to welcome two new members, Professor Keith Lindsey and Professor Jim Dunwell."

Professor Pollock's appointment is for three years but may be extended and has been made in line with the guidance from the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments and in agreement with the Devolved Administrations and Northern Ireland, to which ACRE also reports.


Chris Pollock is Research Director of the Institute of Grassland and Environment Research in Aberystwyth, a post he has held since 1993. He joined the Institute in 1974 and was formerly Head of the Environmental Biology Department. He is an honorary professor of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (Institute of Biological Sciences) and of the University of Nottingham (School of Agriculture).

Professor Pollock graduated in botany from Cambridge University, has a PhD in microbiology from Birmingham and was awarded a DSc from Birmingham University in 1993. His personal research is in the area of plant responses to environmental stress, covering the basic mechanisms of growth, photosynthesis and the storage of reserve carbohydrates in grasses, cereals and legumes. He has published over a hundred papers and reviews on aspects of basic plant science and also has interests in the responses of agricultural crops to climate change.

He currently chairs the independent Scientific Steering Committee for the programme of farm-scale evaluations of GM crops and is also chair of the Research Priorities Group for Sustainable Farming and Food. He was a member of the 1996 Climate Change Impacts Review and chaired the Plants and Microbial Sciences Committee and Review Group on Sustainable Agriculture and Land Use for the BBSRC.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Agriculture Society and of the Institute of Biology and was awarded a CBE for services to the environment in June 2002.

Professor Pollock was appointed a member of ACRE in June 1999. ACRE is the statutory committee set up under section 124 of the Environment Protection Act 1990 to advise Government and the Devolved Administrations on the risks to human health and the environment from the release and marketing of genetically modified organisms. The committee also advises on the release of non-native plants and animals to the countryside of Great Britain.

ACRE is an independent scientific and technical committee and its members are appointed purely for their expertise. No members of ACRE represent particular stakeholder groups, and none is directly employed by the biotechnology industry or by environmental pressure groups. The 12 members are paid a fee of £149 per day plus expenses for the time spent attending and preparing for ACRE meetings, while the Chairman receives £193 per day.

ACRE was established in 1993 and terms of appointment are now normally made for three or four years arranged, to avoid the whole committee having to be appointed at the same time.

The chair and members are appointed in line with the Commissioner for Public Appointments' "Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies". In response to an obligatory question under the Code about political activities in the last five years, Professor Pollock has confirmed he has not undertaken such activities.

The current membership of ACRE is as follows:

Professor Christopher Pollock CBE - Chairman
Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, Aberystwyth Expertise: Plant physiology, biochemistry and plant breeding

Professor Jules Pretty - Deputy Chairman
University of Essex
Expertise: Sustainable agriculture and rural development

Professor Mark Bailey
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Oxford
Expertise: Molecular biology and microbial ecology

Professor Jeff Bale
School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham
Expertise: Entomology, plant biology, ecology and statistics

Mr Edward Cross
Abbey Farm, Norfolk
Expertise: Farming practice, agronomy and sustainable agriculture

Dr Susan Hartley
School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex
Expertise: Ecology, entomology and statistics

Dr Penelope Hirsch
Rothamsted Research
Expertise: Molecular Biology and microbial ecology

Dr Phil Hulme
NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Banchory
Expertise: Ecology, biodiversity and conservation

Professor Keith Lindsey
University of Durham
Expertise: Plant molecular biology

Mr Jim Orson
Director, Morley Research Centre
Expertise: Agronomy, farming practice and plant biology

Dr Mark Rees
Imperial College, University of London
Expertise: Weed ecology and plant biology

Dr Jonathan Stoye
National Institute for Medical Research
Expertise: Virology, molecular biology and microbiology

Representative from the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes
(ex-officio seat) Professor Jim Dunwell
University of Reading
Expertise: Plant biotechnology

Further details of ACRE's activities can be found on the web at

Public enquiries 08459 335577;
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