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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

MEPs Must Uphold the Rule of Law on GM Honey

Immediate release (14 Jan 2014)

Calls to: Helena Paul 0845 217 8992

GM Freeze is urging MEPs to uphold the rule of law in a crucial Parliamentary vote tomorrow on GM pollen in honey.

MEPs will vote on a motion passed by the Environment Committee that insists GM pollen be considered an ingredient of honey [1] in line with the September 2011 ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ). [2]

The European Commission proposes that pollen should instead be called a “constituent”, rather than an ingredient, of honey in an effort to avoid the many complications arising from the ECJ ruling. [2] This rewriting of the ECJ ruling effectively allows GM pollen in honey to remain hidden and unlabelled because it suggests such honey would not need a GM label until pollen accounts for 0.9% of the weight of the honey. Such labels would almost never appear because pollen weight is normally closer to 0.1% of honey.

GM Freeze believes the Commission’s move is completely unacceptable and calls on MEPs considering the text and any proposed amendments to ensure that the ECJ ruling is respected and carried out in full.

GM Freeze Director Helena Paul said:

EU citizens do not want GM pollen smuggled into their honey. The European Court of Justice has ruled clearly on this: pollen is an ingredient of honey and must be treated like any other GM ingredient when it comes to labeling. That ruling must be implemented in full by European regulators. Anything less would violate the rule of law and betray the trust of European citizens.

This is a clear, and (unfortunately) an entirely predictable, result of growing GM maize. Maize pollen spreads far and wide, and bees cannot tell the difference, so it is no surprise that it turns up in honey. That cannot be called accidental, and EU citizens have a right to know if the honey they are eating is affected so they can exercise their right to avoid GM contamination in their food.

As the EU moves to decide on growing a second GM maize crop any day now, this is a clear warning that such decisions have long-lasting and serious consequences that can all be avoided by rejecting GM crops. [3]




[1] The Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, 27 November 2013. “Honey and GMOs: MEPs vote to support EU beekeepers and for clear GMO labelling for honey

Full text of the motion tabled for the 15 January 2014 vote is available at

[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.


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”

[2] GM Freeze, 11 February 2013. “Commission Amending Honey Law to Hide GM Pollen


Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 2001/110/EC relating to honey /* COM/2012/0530 final – 2012/0260 (COD) */

[3] GM Freeze, 13 November 2013. “UK warned: Devolved rejection of GM means UK must vote “No” on new maize


GM Freeze, 17 December 2013. “GM Freeze Statement: GM maize 1507 cultivation application process