By Martin Banks - 6th September 2011
The commission has once again shown that it has failed to put consumers and the environment before the interests of the biotech industry
Friends of the Earth Europe
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will rule on Tuesday on whether honey contaminated by pollen from genetically modified (GM) crops will need to be labelled or need specific EU food safety approval.
The case was forwarded to the ECJ after German beekeepers sued the Bavarian government after their honey was contaminated by field trials of Monsanto's GM maize in 2005.
Any ruling that GM contaminated honey must be subject to full authorisation and labelling would have a major knock-on effect for the EU, which would have to strengthen Europe's GM laws to protect beekeepers and consumers.
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:, "Consumers, farmers and beekeepers deserve the full protection of the law against unwanted contamination from genetically modified crops.
"The fate of beekeepers has been largely ignored and it is only the brave actions of a small number of individuals that have ensured this has gone to Europe's highest court. Honey, like all food, should remain free of contamination from the biotech industry."
In February 2011 the ECJ's advocate general said that honey containing pollen from Monsanto's MON 810 maize is not covered "by an authorisation issued under Regulation 1829/2003".
The official concluded that the unintentional presence in honey, even minute quantities of pollen from MON 810 maize, means that such honey must be the subject of authorisation to be placed on the market.
A ruling in favour of the beekeepers would indirectly challenge the new European regulation abandoning Europe's zero-tolerance of unauthorised GM traces in animal feed.
This new legislation, introduced in July 2011, as a result of pressure from industry, permitted traces of unapproved GMOs despite the absence of a full safety review.
Schimpf added, "Any positive ruling by the European Court would confirm that existing laws allowing traces of unauthorised GM contamination are insufficient and would need revising.
"The European commission, which gave evidence to the court, has once again shown that it has failed to put consumers and the environment before the interests of the biotech industry."