Government appointment

06 Jun 2000

Government appointment for Simmons & Simmons Lawyer

A new independent strategic body was launched yesterday 05 June to advise the Government on biotechnology. Simmons & Simmons' Environmental Lawyer, Justine Thornton has been appointed to The Commission on Agriculture, Environment and Biotechnology ("AEBC") which will advise the Government on any GM issues that have an impact on agriculture and the environment. It will also look at the ethical and acceptability issues surrounding GM technology. Prime Minister Tony Blair described the role of the AEBC as being to provide the Government with advice on a whole range of biotechnology issues including GM foods. The AEBC will report to Cabinet Office Minister Dr Mo Mowlam. The AEBC was launched on World Environment Day.

Justine Thornton said:

"I am very pleased to be appointed to this Commission. Members of the Commission have a wide range of expertise. I hope we can contribute to the debate on the future of biotechnology."
Justine continues to remain a full-time lawyer at Simmons & Simmons.

ENDS Notes for editors:

The decision to establish The Commission on Agriculture, Environment and Biotechnology was announced in the Report of the Government's Review of the Advisory and Regulatory Framework for Biotechnology - published in May 1999.

The review found that a new approach to the provision of strategic advice on biotechnology issues was required. Two new Commissions, the AEBC and the Human Genetics Commission ("HGC"), have been established to give this advice. The HGC will advise on the implications of new developments in genetics for people and healthcare. The Food Standards Agency will provide strategic advice on GM food. The AEBC will address all other aspects of biotechnology, except food.

The role of the AEBC will be to provide Government with independent strategic advice on developments in biotechnology and their implications for agriculture and the environment. It will look at the broad picture, taking account of ethical and social issues as well as the science. The AEBC will be chaired by Professor Malcolm Grant.

Members of the AEBC have been appointed from a wide range of backgrounds and bring skills and experience of consumer and "green" issues, farming, science, ethics and biotechnology industry.

Simmons & Simmons is an international law firm with offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Lisbon, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York with over 1,400 staff worldwide. For further information on Simmons & Simmons go to

Justine Thornton is a barrister. She graduated from Cambridge University in 1992 and practised at the bar before joining the environmental law department at Simmons & Simmons in 1997.

Partner Kathy Mylrea heads the environmental law department at Simmons & Simmons which provides advice on a full range of international, EU and UK based environmental law. The approach of the department is to provide practical and commercial advice to clients and to contribute to a wider debate on environmental issues, such as the future of biotechnology.

For further information, please contact:

Kathy Mylrea, partner and head of environmental law department
Justine Thornton, environmental law department
Louise Resnick, Media Relations Manager
on 020 7628 2020