Bavarian Bees Sting Monsanto

The European Court of Justice has issued a ruling in Case C‑442/09 Bablok et al v. Freistaat Bayern (Monsanto intervening) that might well cause difficulty for food producers and for Monsanto, the owner of patents to many genetically modified organisms used or sold in the food chain. The plaintiff, a beekeeper, sued the Bavarian state for compensation because pollen from a government owned test field of Monsanto’s GM corn (maize) found its way into his honey, polluting it.

The court agreed that the trace amounts of pollen from the Monsanto corn, even though the pollen was no longer alive or capable of propagating living organisms, made the honey containing it a product containing a GMO. It also found that labelling regulations using a “tolerance threshold of 0.9% per ingredient” should not be applied by analogy to limit a regulation that requires governments to ensure the safety of products containing even small amounts of GMOs and that it didn’t matter whether the GMO was introduced into the food product deliberately or accidentally. The Monsanto corn in question had previously been approved as safe for human consumption.

The ruling and the somewhat uncertain state of the law in Europe about GMOs are discussed briefly in articles in the Guardian and EurActiv.

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