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Food Law Column: Honey – natural product or GM accident

Luke Murphy, Chair of IFST's Food Law Group discusses a landmark case which has created a 'buzz' in the honey industry

A court case in 2009 (C-442/09) which made it all the way to the European Court of Justice has created something of a rumble in the honey industry and beyond, following an initial attempt by a beekeeper to sue their local authority in Germany for allowing GM maize to be grown on neighbouring land.

Following a national verdict in Germany, the European Court was asked for its view on the status of a food supplement containing the aforementioned beekeeper’s honey, which also contained pollen from GM maize which happened to be growing on neighbouring land to the aforementioned beekeeper.

The eventual EU judgement, whilst complex, classified pollen as an ingredient of honey, and had “… the consequence that the placing of that honey on the market requires an authorisation issued in accordance with the [GMO] Regulation [1829/2003].” In plain English – the honey requires approval as it contains GM material...

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