Brussels/Luxembourg, September 6, 2011 – The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will later today rule on whether honey contaminated by pollen from genetically modified (GM) crops will need to be labelled or need specific EU food safety approval.
The case was forwarded to the ECJ after German beekeepers sued the Bavarian government after their honey was contaminated by field trials of Monsanto's GM maize in 2005. Any ruling that GM contaminated honey must be subject to full authorisation and labelling would have a major knock-on effect for the European Union, which would have to strengthen Europe's GM laws to protect beekeepers and consumers. 
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Consumers, farmers and beekeepers deserve the full protection of the law against unwanted contamination from genetically modified crops. The fate of beekeepers has been largely ignored and it is only the brave actions of a small number of individuals that have ensured this has gone to Europe's highest court. Honey, like all food, should remain free of contamination from the biotech industry."
In February 2011 the Advocate General at the ECJ noted that honey containing pollen from Monsanto's MON 810 maize is not covered "by an authorisation issued under Regulation 1829/2003". Additionally the Advocate General concluded that the unintentional presence in honey, even minute quantities of pollen from MON 810 maize, means that such honey must be the subject of authorisation to be placed on the market. 
A ruling in favour of the beekeepers would indirectly challenge the new European regulation abandoning Europe's zero-tolerance of unauthorised GM traces in animal feed . This new legislation, introduced in July 2011, as a result of pressure from industry, permitted traces of unapproved GMOs despite the absence of a full safety review.
Mute Schimpf continued: "Any positive ruling by the European Court would confirm that existing laws allowing traces of unauthorised GM contamination are insufficient and would need revising. The European Commission, which gave evidence to the court, has once again shown that it has failed to put consumers and the environment before the interests of the biotech industry."
 A Bavarian beekeeper was forbidden to sell his honey contaminated by governmental field trials of Monsanto's maize MON 810 after traces of GM-pollen were found in 2005. The beekeeper took the Bavarian government to court and the case was forwarded to the European Court of Justice (C-442/09). The European Court of Justice was asked to rule whether honey containing GM-pollen is defined as a GM product and if any trace of a GMO in honey needs an authorisation as a GMO. In 1998 Monsanto obtained authorisation to market certain MON810 maize products as maize flour, maize starch, and maize oil but not for MON810 food products in general. Honey is a special product because besides the different kinds of sugar produced by the bees it also contains pollen. Therefore it is in parallel an animal and plant product. The GM regulation 1829/2003 excludes animal products from obligatory GM labelling, if animals are fed with GM feed
 In Advocate General Bot's opinion, honey containing pollen from MON 810 maize requires authorisation to be placed on the market as a food produced from a GMO, 9th February 2011 http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2011-02/cp110005en.pdf
 REGULATION (EU) No 619/2011 laying down the methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of feed as regards presence of genetically modified material.