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GM Honey Needs a GM Label – UK MEPs must not hide info from consumers

Immediate release (10 Apr 2014)

Press contact: Liz O’Neill tel: 0845 217 8992 email: liz@gmfreeze.org

GM Freeze today urged MEPs to let consumers know what they are feeding their families by voting next week to ensure that GM pollen appears on the label when it’s in our honey.

A European Parliament vote scheduled for Wednesday, 16 April offers an opportunity to reverse previous moves to hide GM content in honey. [1] It is the latest step in a long process attempting to secure transparency about the contamination of honey with GM pollen.

In September 2011 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that pollen is an ingredient of honey so GM pollen must be labelled like any other GM ingredient. [2] The European Commission then proposed that pollen should instead be called a “constituent” of honey, effectively hiding GM pollen because labels would only be necessary if GM pollen accounted for at least 0.9% of the weight of the honey, when in fact total pollen weight in honey is usually around 0.1%.

GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill said:

The background to this vote is complicated, but the issue is very simple. People want to know what they are eating, and we need our MEPs to protect our right to choose whether or not we buy honey containing GM pollen.

UK MEP Julie Girling is the driving force behind the plan to hide GM pollen. In January 2014 her report redefining pollen as a constituent of honey was narrowly supported by MEPs. [3] Most UK MEPs supported the report, undermining their constituents’ right to make informed choices about the food on their tables. [4]

GM Freeze believes the Commission’s attempted evasion of the ECJ ruling is completely unacceptable. If no amendments are tabled the Girling report must be rejected – MEPs should vote “No” to protect consumers’ right to know.

O’Neill added:

It is understandable if MEPs looking at this issue are frustrated by the complexity of the voting situation. The number of double negatives and changes of designation involved make me wonder if all MEPs actually knew what they were voting for last time.

Now there is a chance to put that right with a final vote that can draw a line under the issue and protect EU citizens’ right to know what they are eating.

Notes

[1] GM Freeze, 16 January 2014. “UK MEPs Vote to Hide GM Pollen in Honey

[2] GM Freeze, 7 September 2011. “EU Court of Justice: Contaminated honey needs GM authorisation
The case was brought by Bavarian beekeeper Karl Heinze Bablok after his honey was contaminated by an open-air field trial of GM Mon810 maize on land owned by the Bavarian state. See Court of Justice of the European Union, 6 September 2011. Judgment in Case C-442/09 Karl Heinz Bablok and Others v Freistaat Bayern, “Honey and food supplements containing pollen derived from a GMO are foodstuffs produced from GMOs which cannot be marketed without prior authorization”

[3] Of the 673 MEP votes, 430 (64%) supported the report. See www.votewatch.eu//en/honey-draft-legislative-resolution-vote-commission-proposal-ordinary-legislative-procedure-first-rea.html

[4] Of 73 total UK MEPs, 15 voted against the controversial report, while nine didn’t vote at all and one abstained. Every other UK MEP voted for the report, effectively undermining the ECJ ruling by supporting the Commission’s redefinition of pollen in order to hide it from consumers.

Votes in January 2014 against the Girling report welcomed by GM Freeze for trying to secure labels on GM honey:

MEPConstituency
John Stuart AGNEWEast of England
Martina ANDERSONNorthern Ireland
Gerard BATTENLondon
Derek Roland CLARKEast Midlands
William (The Earl of) DARTMOUTHSouth West England
Jill EVANSWales
Nigel FARAGESouth East of England
Nick GRIFFINNorth West England
Stephen HUGHESNorth East England
Jean LAMBERTLondon
Paul NUTTALLNorth West England
Nicole SINCLAIREWest Midlands
Alyn SMITHScotland
Keith TAYLORSouth East England
Glenis WILLMOTTEast Midlands

Godfrey BLOOM, John BUFTON, Trevor COLMAN, Nirj DEVA, James ELLES, Richard HOWITT, Ian HUDGHTON, Brian SIMPSON and Derek VAUGHAN did not vote.

Peter SKINNER abstained.