Honey won’t sweeten the opposition

A move by the Commission to amend the law on honey won’t buy off opposition from the anti-GMO lobby.

The European Commission has today published Directive (EU) 66/2014amending Council Directive 2001/110/EC relating to honey. This new piece of legislation constitutes a review of the Honey Directive that was triggered by a ruling of the European Court of Justice from September 2011 (case C-442/09), which stated that legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) applies to honey and that pollen in honey is an ingredient.

Classing pollen as an ingredient of honey would have seen a number of additional compulsory labelling requirements imposed on honey producers, including that of indicating the presence of  any genetically modified pollen. However, the new Directive clarifies that pollen is not an ingredient but a natural constituent of honey. While this does not mean exemption from GMO labelling rules for honey, only products which contain genetically modified pollen in a proportion which exceeds 0.9% of the total honey will have to be labelled as being “food (partially) produced from a GMO.”

As often with the sensitive subject of GMOs, the new piece of legislation has already attracted considerable controversy with anti-GMO campaigners denouncing it as a ‘significant weakening of the EU’s protection against GMO contamination’. On the other hand, the new Directive represents a positive development for the industry, which will see the burden of labelling and bureaucratic procedures reduced.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is Europe’s leading public affairs agency for the specialist health product sector. The agency’s clients include Consumers for Health Choice and the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance and a wide range of specialist food product manufacturers and distributors.

Chris Whitehouse