European Coexistence Bureau. Best Practice Documents for coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming. 3. Coexistence of genetically modified maize and honey production
The Technical Working Group (TWG) for Maize of the European Coexistence Bureau (ECoB) analysed in 2010 the best practices for coexistence between GM maize crop production with non-GM maize . In this document the analysis is extended to the coexistence between GM maize crop production and honey production in the EU. The TWG assessed if any further coexistence measure to those currently recommended in the previous document was required to limit adventitious presence of GM maize pollen in honey avoiding economic loses for producers. The terms of reference for this review are presented in Section 1. An overview of the structure of the honey-producing sector in Europe is given in Section 2. The EcoB TWG maize held two meetings in June and November 2012 and examined state-of-art-knowledge from scientific literature, study reports and empirical evidence provided by numerous finished and ongoing studies looking at the factors determining the presence of pollen in general or maize pollen (even specifically GM maize pollen) in samples of EU produced honey. In addition to biological factors (related to honeybee behaviour and maize pollen characteristics) the TWG also analysed existing mandatory quality standards that impact the eventual presence of pollen in commercial honey. The review of this information (coming from a total of 132 references) is presented in a structured manner in Section 3 of this document. Finally, the TWG reviewed the state of the art and possibilities for the detection and identification of traces of GM maize pollen in honey (Section 4). The analysis of existing information indicates that total pollen presence in honey ranges between 0.003 to 0.1 % in weight. Considering the share of maize pollen in total pollen found in honey, the extrapolated figures for maize pollen in honey would be around an order of magnitude lower. Nevertheless, it is important to stress that studies aiming at the detection/identification of this trace-levels of maize pollen are usually carried out with morphological identification and counting of pollen grains, and that a routine DNA analysis based on validated PCR protocol able to quantify total pollen in honey is unavailable. Once such a method could be found, the maize pollen fraction as well as the GM-pollen fraction of the total pollen could be established. In conclusion, the TWG maize of the ECoB, based on the analysis of the evidence summarised in this document concludes that no changes in the Best practice document on maize coexistence of July 20101 are necessary to ensure that adventitious presence of GM maize pollen in honey is far below legal labelling thresholds and even below 0.1 %.
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