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Fri, 25 May 2007

German court ruling protects honey against genetic contamination

BERLIN/ROSENFELD (NNA) - A court in Germany has ruled that beekeepers and consumers are entitled to honey which is free of genetic contamination.

In a case brought by a beekeeper, the administrative court in Augsburg also ordered the state of Bavaria to protect his honey from contamination with pollen from the genetically modified MON 810 maize plant, the Mellifera beekeepers’ association said in Berlin.

The beekeeper had taken the action to prevent his honey from being contaminated by maize on a neighbouring experimental state farm. The maize, which has already been sown, will now have to be ploughed under or alternatively the pollen in its blossoms will have to be made harmless.

The court said that there were considerable deficits in the licensing and safety of the genetically engineered maize.

“With its ruling, the Augsburg court has acted to protect the rights of beekeepers, consumers and farmers who want nothing to do with genetic engineering,” Thomas Radetzki from Mellifera, which instigated and supported the action, said.

Beekeepers elsewhere will also be able to take action now since the court has classed honey containing pollen from MON 810 as unsellable. Court cases arising from genetically modified maize are pending in several other German states.

In Brandenburg, a court refused to protect the honey in a similar action.

Peter Röhring from the German Ecological Farming Association (BÖLW) said it was wrong that beekeepers had to turn to the courts to protect themselves against genetic engineering. The new law on genetic engineering did not take sufficient account of their needs and beekeepers were simply ignored.

According to German law, consumers and farmers simply have to accept contamination of up to 0.9 percent of genetically modified materials in food without being able to do anything about it.

This continues to apply even though the German Office for Food Safety has recently determined that the latest research “provides grounds for the assumption that genetically modified maize represents a risk to human health and the environment.”

The legal action by beekeepers and maize farmers is being supported by an alliance consisting of private people, BÖLW, the Association of Ecological Food Manufacturers (AÖL) and the Demeter Association. The alliance is organised by Mellifera.

END/NNA/ung/cva

Link: www.bienen-gentechnik.de

Item: 070525-01EN Date: 25 May 2007

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