Written Q&A to EU Commission – Honey labelling and GMOs

Question for written answer E-002666/13
to the Commission
Jim Higgins (PPE)
(7 March 2013)

Subject: Labelling of honey

The practical effect of the classification of pollen as a constituent of honey in the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2001/110/EC relating to honey will be that the presence of authorised genetically modified (GM) pollen in honey will not require labelling unless it exceeds 0.9% of the overall honey weight.
How does the Commission plan to protect the rights of consumers to transparent labelling?
How can consumers make an informed decision when the presence of GM pollen is not marked on the label of honey products?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission
(22 April 2013)

The objective of the proposal by the Commission is not to prevent consumers from being informed of the presence of unauthorised GM pollen in honey, but to clarify that pollen is a constituent of honey, in line with international standards. This amendment will restore honey as a natural product made by bees and only composed of constituents.
In this context, the GMO legislation (1) adopted by the European Parliament and the Council sets out a labelling threshold of 0.9% under which presence of authorised GMOs in foodstuff does not have to be labelled when this presence is adventitious or technically unavoidable. The Commission considers that this labelling threshold applies equally to honey as to any other foodstuff and that there are no objective reasons to make a special treatment for honey.
The Commission considers that the development of ‘GM free’ labelling schemes by private operators or public authorities can permit consumers to select products avoiding any GM presence if they so wish. The Commission has launched a study to gain a better understanding of the scopes and specifications of these labels in the EU and to assess the need for a possible harmonisation of this field. The results of the study will be published in 2013.

⋅1∙ Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on GM food and feed, OJ L 268, 18.10.2003.

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