Conservatives beat GM fanatics' attack on honey

14-Jan-2014 @ 14:0

Julie Girling Julie Girling

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Conservative MEPs today defeated a bid by eco-zealots to get pollen officially designated an ingredient of honey.

The unrealistic and damaging move would have added hugely to the cost of commercial honey production and put many small-scale beekeepers out of business.

No beekeeper or producer deliberately adds pollen to honey as an ingredient, but it is unavoidably found in small amounts as a natural constituent.

It is illogical to consider it anything other than a constituent – but the false proposition was championed mainly by far-Left and Green Party activists through blinkered hostility to genetic modification. They were backed by British Labour Party MEPs.

Conservative agriculture spokesman Julie Girling led opposition to the proposal and said: "It is a relief for everyone involved in beekeeping or honey-production that this ridiculous suggestion has been seen off.

"It was driven forward by the eco-fanatics without any regard for the practicalities– or even the truth – and would have caused untold damage."

In September 2009, following the discovery of pollen from GM maize in honey, a court case ensued resulting in a ruling from the European Court of Justice that pollen is an ingredient, throwing honey production into a state of legal limbo.

Mrs Girling became the Parliament's lead MEP in drafting a legislative response to clarify matters. She proposed an outright reversal of the court decision in form of legislation to declare pollen a constituent – but militant Green MEPs on the Environment Committee swung a vote to turn her report on its head and make it an ingredient.

Today a majority of MEPs supported Mrs Girling in reinstating her original proposals – although British Labour MEPs opposed her and insisted on backing the damaging "ingredient" court decision.

During a debate in Strasbourg this week Mrs Girling, Conservative MEP for the South West, said: "With all due respect to the court, this isn't true, and any beekeeper will tell you so.

"Honey is considered by producers and consumers alike to be a wholly natural product, made entirely by bees and free from human interference. To define pollen as an ingredient would go in sharp contrast to consumers' beliefs and would cause reputational damage to honey by implying that its production is not a wholly natural process."

She warned that environmental fanatics wanted some honey labelled as "food produced from GMOs". They thought they would score a small victory in the fight against GMOs, despite the honey sector becoming collateral damage.

But they would not assist consumers as claimed. And she concluded: "If they truly want transparency - lying to consumers by stating that pollen is an ingredient isn't a good start."

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