According to an advocate general opinion, which is not binding on the European Union (EU) Court of Justice, honey that contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) due to the proximity of the hives to experimental GMO maize fields is considered a food produced from a GMO and therefore cannot be marketed unless authorized. Heinz Bablock v. Freistaat Bayern, No. C-442/09 (Advocate General’s Opinion, issued February 9, 2011). The case was referred from a German administrative court considering the claim of a beekeeper who alleged that the state of Bavaria had rendered his apicultural products unfit for marketing or consumption by growing the experimental GMO maize near his hives. The maize DNA was apparently detected in samples of his honey.

While the advocate general determined that pollen from GMO maize is
“no longer viable and is thus infertile” and as such “cannot be regarded as a
GMO,” still its presence renders the honey a food “produced from GMOs.” His
opinion concluded that “food containing material from a genetically modified plant, whether that material is included intentionally or not, must always be regarded as food produced from a GMO.” The GMO maize and a number of food products derived from the maize were authorized in the EU, but the honey was not and could not therefore be sold. The EU Court of Justice is now considering the matter. See EU Court of Justice Press Release No 5/11, February 9, 2011.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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