The European Commission is moving to overturn a court ruling that pollen is an ingredient in honey. The Commission said that in line with World Trade Organization standards, the proposal defines pollen as a natural constituent of honey and not as an ingredient.
The change in EU rules, if accepted by all EU member states, would clarify the position for beekeepers left in limbo by the European Court of Justice ruling. The court said it considered pollen to be an ingredient in honey, rather than brought there naturally by the bees, and if it came from GM plants, the honey would have to carry a warning that it contained GM products.
The warning would be needed if GM pollen accounted for 0.9% of all the pollen in the honey. However, the Commission proposal recognizes that pollen is a natural constituent and not an ingredient of honey; it enters into the hive as a result of the activity of the bees and is found in honey regardless of whether the beekeeper intervenes.
“Consequently, since pollen is considered as a natural constituent of honey, EU labeling rules requiring a list of ingredients would not apply,” the commission says.
The EU accounts for about 13% of global honey production or 200,000 tonnes. Spain is the largest producer (33,000 tonnes), followed by Italy, Hungary and Romania (which each produce around 22,000 tonnes) and Portugal (21,000 tonnes). EU honey imports amount to around 140,000 tonnes and account for 40% of total EU consumption.