In this country, we have a right to know exactly what we are eating, MEP Nessa Childers said this afternoon as Europe voted to keep secret the presence of GM pollen in honey.
‘This isn’t about being some sort of a “nanny state” or controlling every element of what people consume,’ Ms Childers said from Brussels where voting on the issue took place in the last hour.
‘But I have – like many people in this country – serious concerns about the use, however slight, of genetically modified crops.
‘If GM-foods are creeping into our food chain and on to supermarket shelves, then the consumer needs to know that without exception.’
MEPs have recently disagreed about whether pollen should be classified as a natural component rather than an ingredient of honey.
‘When I pick up a food item and inspect the ingredients, I should have the right to identify exactly what is included,’ Ms Childers, an independent politician, added. ‘I shouldn’t have to engage in guess work, or go off and carry out my own research – it should be there in black and white.’
Two of the main honey-producing member states – Spain and Romania – currently also have authorisation to produce GM maize.
In September 2011, the European Court Of Justice declared that honey containing GM pollen is subject to normal regulations and labelling requirements and therefore must be clearly marked. But the Commission has continually disagreed, with centre-right British MEP Julie Girling co-ordinating the resistance.
‘An intense lobbying campaign has been spearheaded by honey importers,’ Ms Childers also said.
‘And I recall the Commission previously pushing through regulation to allow GM potatoes be grown and sold in Europe – regulation which was subsequently found to be flawed and unlawful.
‘Those relevant powers weren’t prioritising the interests of European citizens then, and I would be fearful that something similar could be in the offing now.’