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Crop Biotech Update

EU Court of Justice Directive on Honey Containing Pollen Derived from GMO

November 18, 2011

The Court of Justice of the European Union issued a press statement on Honey and food supplements containing pollen derived from a GMO are foodstuffs produced from GMOs which cannot be marketed without prior authorization. It came out with a directive on its decision regarding the complaint filed by two beekeepers from Germany regarding the "presence of residues of GM maize which made his products unsuitable for marketing and consumption."

The Court concluded that "pollen derived from a variety of genetically modified maize which has lost its ability to reproduce and is totally incapable of transferring the genetic material which it contains, no longer comes within the scope of that concept. Nevertheless, products such as honey and food supplements containing such pollen constitute foodstuffs which contain ingredients produced from GMOs within the meaning of the regulation."

This directive implies that honey producers may be forced to test for exposure to GM pollen. If interpreted broadly, according to an article in Nature Biotechnology, the decision could have widespread consequences for testing requirements for other agricultural products.

The EU Court of Justice press release is at http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2011-09/cp110079en.pdf. The Nature Biotechnology article abstract is available at http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v29/n11/full/nbt1111-958b.html.