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EU places limits on modified honey

Environmental activists have welcomed today’s ruling, saying it is “a victory for beekeepers, consumers and the movement for GM-free agriculture in Europe”.

Honey bees sit on a honeycomb.
Honey bees sit on a honeycomb.
Image: AP Photo/Heribert Proepper

HONEY THAT CONTAINS traces of pollen from genetically modified crops needs special authorisation before it can be sold, the European Union’s top court said today, in a judgment that could have widespread consequences on the bloc’s policy on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The ruling from the European Court of Justice came after several Bavarian beekeepers demanded compensation from their government for honey and food supplements that contained traces of pollen from genetically modified maize.

The beekeepers had their hives close to fields where the Bavarian government was growing Monsanto’s MON 810 maize for research purposes.

The EU has strict guidelines on authorising and informing consumers about foods containing GMOs — a policy that has caused problems for producers of genetically modified seeds such as US-based Monsanto Company that are used to much laxer rules in other parts of the world.

Environmental activists said today’s ruling will force the European Union to strengthen the rules even further at a time they worried the bloc was dropping its zero-tolerance policy toward GMOs.

“This is a victory for beekeepers, consumers and the movement for GM-free agriculture in Europe,” Mute Schimpf, a food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said in a statement. “This ruling rewrites the rule book and gives legal backing to stronger measures to prevent contamination from the likes of Monsanto.”

Earlier this year, the EU approved rules to allow the import of animal feed contaminated with small traces of genetically modified crops — a move that was heavily criticised by environmental groups.

Read: EU proposes to harmonise GM food tolerance policy>

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Associated Press

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