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CONTAMINATION & REGULATION: EU court backs German beekeepers in GM pollen case



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   EU COURT BACKS GERMAN BEEKEEPERS IN GM POLLEN CASE

SOURCE:  Thomson Reuters, USA

AUTHOR:  Charlie Dunmore

URL:     http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/06/eu-court-gmos-idUSLDE7850KI20110906

DATE:    06.09.2011

SUMMARY: "Honey containing even small traces of pollen from genetically modified plants must receive prior EU authorisation before it can be sold as food, Europe?s highest court said on Tuesday. The ruling could open the way for compensation claims by beekeepers against biotech companies such as Monsanto, and EU authorities said it could hit European imports of honey from countries where GM crops are widely grown. The case was brought by German beekeepers from Bavaria, who in 2005 found their honey contained traces of pollen from insect-resistant GM maize plants developed by Monsanto, which were being grown for research purposes near their hives."

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EU COURT BACKS GERMAN BEEKEEPERS IN GM POLLEN CASE

- Court says honey containing GM pollen must get EU approval

- Campaigners say Monsanto should pay financial compensation

BRUSSELS, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Honey containing even small traces of pollen from genetically modified (GM) plants must receive prior EU authorisation before it can be sold as food, Europe?s highest court said on Tuesday.

The ruling could open the way for compensation claims by beekeepers against biotech companies such as Monsanto, and EU authorities said it could hit European imports of honey from countries where GM crops are widely grown.

The case was brought by German beekeepers from Bavaria, who in 2005 found their honey contained traces of pollen from insect-resistant GM maize (corn) plants developed by Monsanto, which were being grown for research purposes near their hives.

The beekeepers said the presence of pollen from GM plants in their honey made the product unsuitable for sale and consumption, and brought legal action against the Bavarian authorities which authorised the field trials of GM maize.

?Products such as honey containing such pollen constitute foodstuffs which contain ingredients produced from GMOs,? the European Court of Justice said in a statement.

?The pollen in question consequently comes within the scope of the (EU) regulation and must be subject to the authorisation scheme provided for thereunder before being placed on the market,? the statement said.

Environmental campaigners said the ruling proved that GM and non-GM agriculture could not coexist in Europe, and that the European Commission should reverse its recent decision to allow traces of unapproved GM material in feed imports to the bloc.

?Monsanto and the Bavarian state that grew the crop should be held fully liable for this genetic pollution and compensate any beekeeper affected,? Greenpeace EU agriculture policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer said in a statement.

A spokesman for Monsanto refused to comment on the specifics of the case, but said there were no safety concerns with its MON810 maize.

?This case is about the legal technicalities of the EU approvals of MON810. The safety of MON810 is confirmed by multiple regulatory approvals, including those in the EU, and by up to 15 years of successful commercial use and consumption,? the spokesman said.

A spokesman for the Commission said the EU executive was still studying the ruling, but that it could have an impact on imports of honey from countries such as Argentina, where GM crops are widely grown.

Imports accounted for 40 percent of EU honey consumption in 2007, and were worth a total of 375 million euros ($528.4 million), the Confederation of British Industry said in a 2009 report. (Editing by Charlie Dunmore, editing by Anthony Barker) ($1=.7097 Euro)



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   EU COURT PUTS LIMITS ON MODIFIED HONEY

SOURCE:  The Associated Press, USA

AUTHOR:  Gabriele Steinhauser

URL:     http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j2BOJ8hjqQsFlZ6oE6IFVwVtJZSA?docId=7851e2bdc4b340a4a873414d0d2703a6

DATE:    06.09.2011

SUMMARY: "Honey that contains traces of pollen from genetically modified crops needs special authorization before it can be sold in Europe, the European Union?s top court said Tuesday, in a judgment that could have widespread consequences on the bloc?s policy on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The ruling from the European Court of Justice came after several Bavarian beekeepers demanded compensation from their government for honey and food supplements that contained traces of pollen from genetically modified maize."

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EU COURT PUTS LIMITS ON MODIFIED HONEY

BRUSSELS (AP) ? Honey that contains traces of pollen from genetically modified crops needs special authorization before it can be sold in Europe, the European Union?s top court said Tuesday, in a judgment that could have widespread consequences on the bloc?s policy on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The ruling from the European Court of Justice came after several Bavarian beekeepers demanded compensation from their government for honey and food supplements that contained traces of pollen from genetically modified maize.

The beekeepers had their hives close to fields where the Bavarian government was growing Monsanto?s MON 810 maize for research purposes.

The EU has strict guidelines on authorizing and informing consumers about foods containing GMOs ? a policy that has caused problems for producers of genetically modified seeds such as U.S.-based Monsanto Co. that are used to much laxer rules in other parts of the world.

Kelli Powers, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, said the company could not provide detailed comment on the ruling until the firm had a chance to read the entire judgment.

But Powers emphasized that the company?s engineered corn seed has been approved as safe for human consumption.

?...the safety of MON 810 is confirmed by multiple regulatory approvals, including those in the EU, and by up to 15 years of successful commercial use and consumption of MON810 corn products in the EU and around the world,? Powers said in an e-mail.

Environmental activists said Tuesday?s ruling will force the 17-country European Union to strengthen the rules even further at a time they worried the bloc was dropping its zero-tolerance policy toward GMOs.

?This is a victory for beekeepers, consumers and the movement for GMO-free agriculture in Europe,? Mute Schimpf, a food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said in a statement. ?This ruling rewrites the rule book and gives legal backing to stronger measures to prevent contamination from the likes of Monsanto.?

Earlier this year, the EU approved rules to allow the import of animal feed contaminated with small traces of genetically modified crops ? a move that was heavily criticized by environmental groups.

The EU and feed suppliers argued that a loosening of the ban was necessary because it was difficult to prevent minute traces of GMOs from finding their way into large shipments from overseas.

In its judgment on the honey, the Luxembourg-based court however seemed to take a stricter view.

The EU?s ?authorization scheme for foodstuffs containing ingredients produced from GMOs applies irrespective of whether the pollen is introduced intentionally or adventitiously into the honey,? it said in its ruling.

The obligation to get special permission to sell the honey exists ?irrespective of the proportion of genetically modified material contained in the product in question,? the court added.

AP Reporter Christopher Leonard in St. Louis contributed to this report.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   EU COURT BACKS ANGRY HONEYMAKER IN GM POLLEN ROW

SOURCE:  France24, France

AUTHOR:  Agence France Press, France

URL:     http://www.france24.com/en/20110906-eu-court-backs-angry-honeymaker-gm-pollen-row

DATE:    06.09.2011

SUMMARY: "The presence of pollen from GM maize in honey, even in minuscule quantities, renders farm produce commercially void in the European Union, the bloc?s top court said Tuesday. ?Honey and food supplements containing pollen derived from a (genetically-modified organism) are foodstuffs produced from GMOs which cannot be marketed without prior authorisation,? the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice said in an eagerly-awaited judgment."

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EU COURT BACKS ANGRY HONEYMAKER IN GM POLLEN ROW

AFP - The presence of pollen from GM maize in honey, even in minuscule quantities, renders farm produce commercially void in the European Union, the bloc?s top court said Tuesday.

?Honey and food supplements containing pollen derived from a (genetically-modified organism) are foodstuffs produced from GMOs which cannot be marketed without prior authorisation,? the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice said in an eagerly-awaited judgment.

The decision, which surprised and delighted environmental campaigners steeled against the stealth march of so-called ?Frankenfoods,? stemmed from a claim mounted by amateur German beekeeper Karl Heinz Bablok and the state of Bavaria.

Authorised GM maize was grown there by US industry giant Monsanto just hundreds of yards from Bablok?s bees.

Judges crucially classed the pollen as a natural ?ingredient? of honey, and therefore subject to the EU?s authorisations regime.

?This is a victory for beekeepers, consumers and the movement for GM-free agriculture in Europe,? said Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe.

?This ruling re-writes the rule book and gives legal backing to stronger measures to prevent contamination from the likes of Monsanto.?

?It?s a scandal there?s no Europe-wide liability regime to protect beekeepers or farmers affected by GM crops,? Greenpeace EU agriculture policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer added.

She called for Monsanto and the Bavarian state to be ?held fully liable for this genetic pollution,? including for compensation.

EU governments voted earlier this year to allow crops containing tiny traces of genetically-modified produce to enter the European food chain for the first time, but the honey ruling may see tightened rules re-introduced.



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:   EU IS HURTING ITSELF WITH GENETICALLY MODIFIED RULES - EXPERTS

SOURCE:  Fox Business, USA

AUTHOR:  Dow Jones Newswire, USA, by Caroline Henshaw

URL:     http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2011/09/06/eu-is-hurting-itself-with-genetically-modified-rules-experts/

DATE:    06.09.2011

SUMMARY: "Speaking at the sidelines of a conference here, Mike Bushell, principal scientific advisor for agrochemicals giant Syngenta AG, estimated that the average cost of creating a test trial of any genetically modified product in the EU stands at around $100 million. ?At the same time as we?re promoting Europe as the leading knowledge-based economy, we?re actually doing our very best to give ourselves a bad reputation for a place to invest in new technology,? he said. Gordon Conway, head of the Agriculture for Impact initiative at Imperial College London, said that many of the same technologies are already at work in the pharmaceutical industry but face far less resistance from politicians and consumers."

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EU IS HURTING ITSELF WITH GENETICALLY MODIFIED RULES - EXPERTS

PARIS - (Dow Jones)- The European Union is shooting itself in the foot with its restrictive policies on cultivating genetically modified organisms, two senior experts on biotechnology said Tuesday.

Speaking at the sidelines of a conference here, Mike Bushell, principal scientific advisor for agrochemicals giant Syngenta AG, estimated that the average cost of creating a test trial of any genetically modified product in the EU stands at around $100 million.

?At the same time as we?re promoting Europe as the leading knowledge-based economy, we?re actually doing our very best to give ourselves a bad reputation for a place to invest in new technology,? he said.

Gordon Conway, head of the Agriculture for Impact initiative at Imperial College London, said that many of the same technologies are already at work in the pharmaceutical industry but face far less resistance from politicians and consumers.

?The irony is we?re all quite happy to be injected with a vaccine that?s been produced through a biotechnology approach,? he said.

Their comments came the same day that Europe?s top court ruled that food supplements containing pollen derived from a genetically modified food come under the bloc?s so-called GM laws, ?irrespective of the proportion of genetically modified material contained in the product,? and so must be authorized to be marketed.

The decision from the European Court of Justice came after several Bavarian beekeepers who kept their hives near a government trial of one of the two GM crops approved for cultivation in the EU demanded compensation after traces of contaminated pollen were found in their honey.

?The pollen in question consequently comes within the scope of the regulation and must be subject to the authorization scheme provided for thereunder before being placed on the market,? the ruling said.

Yet attitudes to GM crops remain divided in the EU. According to research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Brussels attache, Portugal?s sowings of Monsanto Co.?s MON 810 variety of GM corn soared by 50% to 7,300 hectares last year due to concerns about pests. In Spain, seedings rose 4.7% to 80,200 hectares--more than 20% of the total area planted with corn.

?Europe?s got itself in a complete mess,? Syngenta?s Bushell said.