2.Court decision: cultivation of GM maize makes honey unmarketable!

A German court has ruled that a beekeeper cannot sell honey containing GM pollen. He is also unable to claim protection against the growing of the GM corn that polluted his honey. (item 1)

The GM pollen came from MON 810 corn. The German government has put such tight restrictions on growing this GM corn that it virtually amounts to a ban. They did this over concerns that the GM corn harms the environment - see item 3.

Item 2 provides more detail and comment on the court decision. Thanks to Karsten Wolff for the translation from the German.
BioFach Newsletter, 13.06.08 (item 3)

The Augsburg administrative court [in Southern Germany] ruled on 30.5.2008 that honey containing pollen from
MON 810 genetically modified corn is not tradable. Although the judge recognizes that
the plaintiff, bee-keeper Karl-Heinz Bablok, is very adversely affected by this ruling because he is not allowed to sell such honey, it is the court's opinion that he has no claim to protection against the growing of GM corn. Bablok and the "Alliance for the Protection of Bees against Agro-Genetic Engineering" are now counting on a new verdict in the principal proceedings. The alliance of the food industry, bee-keeping associations
and many individuals are supporting the bee-keeper in his legal action.
2.GE honey banned, but beekeepers without protection
Court decision: cultivation of GE maize makes honey unmarketable!

The administration court in Augsburg ruled on May 30 that honey containing pollen of the genetically modified maize MON 810 is not marketable. According to the judges, the cultivation constitutes a fundamental curtailing of the beekeeper Bablok, because he is not allowed to market this kind of honey. Even the smallest traces of pollen cause the honey to be unmarketable, since GE maize has no approval as a food.

But the court also ruled that the beekeeper cannot claim any protection against the cultivation of MON 810. The beekeeper Bablok had tried to assert that the maize farmer needs to prevent his bees from carrying the pollen of the maize by implementing appropriate actions such as the cutting of the pollen or harvesting before flowering. Although the amateur beekeeper attends to his bees stationary in an apiary since many years und does not have the technical means to transport his bees, the court expects from him to move his bee colony to another location during the flowering of the maize. After balancing the proportionality, this could be demanded from the beekeeper.

However, the court also pointed out that the beekeeper can seek compensation from the maize farmer subject to private law. The judge admitted that the expansion of GE maize cultivation would lead to a situation where the beekeeper faces an irresolvable problem. But the court ruling covers this particular case for the year 2008, only.

"This decision reveals that beekeeping is affected in its core by agricultural genetic engineering. It cannot be right that beekeepers and farmers have to carry the can for the deficits in the approval, for which Monsanto is responsible." says Thomas Radetzki, representative of the network supporting the beekeeper filing the lawsuit.

But for beekeeper Bablok this is not only about economic problems: "If the legislator will not implement actions to protect beekeeping in the future, the expansion of GE maize will lead to a countryside without any bees left at all. This will cause an emergency with regards to the pollination of fruits and other crops, eventually causing a depletion of diversity within uncultivated varieties. It is beyond comprehension that the government supports unblushingly the multinational seed company, but abandons native beekeepers, farmers and consumers, and sacrifices essential environmental interests. However, our struggle continues, also at the courts, in order to fight for the enforcement of our rights."

Source: Beekeepers against Genetic Engineering (German website)
Germany Tightens Restrictions on Genetically Modified Corn
Der Spiegel, 9 May 2007,1518,481952,00.html

*The German government has imposed stricter regulations on the food company Monsanto regarding the sale of genetically modified corn seeds. The new rules are tantamount to an outright ban.

Genetically modified (GM) crops have long been controversial in Germany, where organic agriculture is booming. Now the cultivation of GM corn has been effectively banned by the government, according to media reports.

In its Wednesday edition, the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel reports that it has obtained a letter sent from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to the agricultural company Monsanto, which sells the GM corn MON 810 -- which has been legal in Germany up until now -- as seed. In the letter, the ministry writes that GM corn from the MON 810 product line can only be delivered to third parties if the firm also provides an accompanying monitoring plan which researches the effects on the environment. The German news agency DPA also reported Wednesday they had obtained a copy of the same letter.

"This amounts to a de facto ban on the cultivation of genetically modified corn," said Peter Rudolph, who is responsible for genetic technology in the Brandenburg state ministry of agriculture, in remarks to Der Tagesspiegel Tuesday. He said the letter basically means Monsanto will no longer be allowed to sell MON 810, as the company has not presented any monitoring plan up until now. Brandenburg is the German state with the largest quantity of GM corn under cultivation.

In the letter, the federal ministry justifies its decision by writing that new information "gives reasons to suppose that the cultivation of MON 810 poses a danger to the environment."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture told the newspaper that the letter should not be interpreted as a ban, but rather as a tightening of the regulations concerning the cultivation of the GM corn.

The new ruling could mean that crops already planted may not be allowed to be harvested. Brandenburg farmer Jörg Piprek told Der Tagesspiegel the new ruling was absurd: "We've already planted the corn. They can't tell us after the fact that it was illegal."

The cultivation of genetically modified crops has been controversial all over Europe, with anti-GM activists going as far as ripping up crops. The German Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer has up until now justified the cultivation of GM crops in Germany by arguing they are allowed under European Union regulations.