Keep our honey a natural product - support the ENVI report on 15 January

GMO pollen is not a natural constituent of honey – tell your MEP to support the ENVI committee position during voting on 15 January.

Letter you can use for your message:

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

You will vote on the honey directive in plenary tomorrow. This vote will have major implications for European food and farming of the future. As an organisation representing organic farmers, gardeners, processors, beekeepers and consumers in all EU member states, we are very much concerned about this topic and ask you to vote to ensure:

  • transparency for consumers to ensure free choice for GMO free products
  • the right of beekeepers to produce and market pure and natural honey

To protect consumers’ right for information about their food, as well as beekeepers’ right to produce natural honey, please support the position of the ENVI Committee:

Amendments 1, 2-8, 9D and 10-16 which ensure reliable consumer information and therewith freedom of choice for consumers, taking into account the special characteristics of honey.

Please reject the amendments:
17, 18, 19, 20 which suggest that no difference should be made between natural pollen and pollen from GMO plants; which would result in a situation where contamination with GMO in honey would practically not be labelled

Please support the amendments:
21, 22, 23 which provide further clarity and demand a proper legislation to prevent GMO contamination.

In 2011,  the European Court of Justice (ECJ, Case C-422/09) ruled that pollen from genetically modified plants (GMOs) found in honey has to be considered as an ingredient, consequently honey contaminated with GM pollen must  be labelled as containing GMOs.

The ECJ ruling would ensure that consumers are informed if honey contains GMO-contaminated pollen or not.

The Commission reacted to the ruling with the proposal COM(2012)0530. This proposal  undermines the crucial arguments of the ECJ ruling. It suggests to change the Honey Directive 2001/110 in such a way that GM pollen would not be regarded in the future as an ingredient, but as constituent of honey. As the content of pollen in honey is very low, this would mean  that even highly GMO contaminated honey would always remain below the 0.9% labelling threshold for adventitious or technically unavoidable GMO contamination. This would be the case although the content of GM pollen compared to the total pollen content (and consequently the honey assembled from GM plants compared to the total of plants) could potentially be above the threshold. Consequently, the GMO-labelling rules would not apply to honey.  This could mean that for example Canadian honey harvested from almost 100% GM-rapeseed/canola plants could be sold in the EU without GMO labelling!

To secure GMO free honey production and transparency for consumers in the future, we need clear rules! If honey contaminated with GM pollen would be authorized to be marketed in the EU, it must be labeled as containing pollen produced from GMOs.

The 0.9% labeling threshold ( Article 12 (2) , EU Regulation 1829/2003) only exempts the presence of those GMOs from the labeling requirement where the GM contamination stays below  0.9% of each concerned ingredient, and is adventitious or technically unavoidable. GM pollen in honey is neither adventitious nor technically unavoidable. GM pollen contamination can be prevented. Farmers who would like to cultivate GM crops must be made responsible and ensure that contamination does not happen by respecting the necessary isolation distances between their fields and beehives.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you need any further information.

Yours sincerely,