Honey containing even the tiniest traces of genetically-modified material needs to be approved by regulators before it can be sold in the European Union, a judge at Europe’s highest court said today (9 February).
Under EU rules all genetically-modified (GM) crops or food made with GM ingredients need to be approved before they can be sold in the EU.
Today’s non-binding opinion by Yves Bot, an advocate general at the EU’s Court of Justice, spells out that even “a minute quantity of pollen” from a GM crop would mean that “honey must be the subject of an authorisation to be placed on the market”.
Advocate generals’ opinions are not binding on the court, but they are often followed in judgments.
The legal case arose when an amateur beekeeper in Bavaria took the state to court in Germany, after finding traces of genetically-modified pollen from a nearby maize crop (MON 810) in samples of his honey. The maize, Monsanto’s MON 810, was being grown on nearby land owned by the state for research purposes.
The opinion was published as the EU debates how to reform its GM approval system. In a confidential paper, the European Commission recently proposed that governments could be allowed to ban GM crops to preserve consumer choice to buy non-GM crops. This choice could be compromised by widespread planting of GM crops, as GM seed and pollen could not be contained in fixed zones.
National government officials will discuss this idea tomorrow (11 February) at a meeting in Brussels, along with other reasons they might use to ban GM cultivation. The Commission has also proposed maintaining public order and protecting public morals as reasons for governments to ban cultivation, but governments still have to approve the list.
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