Is the potential honey shortage averted?

By 3. January 2013Blog, Health, Nutrition, Risk Management

Last year we reported on the ruling by the EU court of Justice that honey containing GM pollen would need to be authorised before it could be sold as food in the EU.

This had the potential to cause big headaches for the EU as much of the honey coming into Europe comes from countries where GM crops are grown and so could be expected to contain GM pollen. But what could be done to remedy the situation? The honey could be filtered but this practice is not popular as some unscrupulous honey suppliers use this technique to hide the origin of honey (See Honey laundering and adulteration).

Now, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has backed an application by Monsanto to allow a GM pollen from one of their modified maize lines in food, i.e. in honey. What they conclude is that based on the data available there is no evidence that is pollen is of a concern to health compared with non modified maize pollen.
Caution is correct in these situations, a 50g serving of honey can contain 190mg of maize pollen and GM maize pollen is likely to contain the additional proteins the plant has been modified to produce.