Pollen from genetically modified plants in honey – problems with quantification and proper labelling

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Maize can be a valuable source of pollen when plants attractive for bees are not available. Honeybees can forage from conventional maize as well as from genetically modified (GM ) maize. The Court of Justice of the European Union (EU ) ruled that pollen in honey must be treated as a food ingredient and therefore falls within the scope of Regulation 1829/2003/EC on GM food and feed and requires authorization. GM pollen unauthorized in the EU cannot be present in honey at any level, and honey must be labelled if it contains more than 0.9% of pollen from authorized GM plants in relation to total pollen content. However, currently available analytical methods allow only for estimation of GM pollen quantity in honey. Therefore, Directive 2001/110/EC related to honey needs to be amended so that pollen can be regarded as a natural constituent of honey. Because the EU is a big honey importer, validated and harmonized detection methods are necessary for the control of GM pollen in honey.

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