(CN) - An adviser to Europe's high court says pollen and honey contaminated with genetically modified organisms that have gone inert should still be regarded as GMO products and are thus subject to authorization. The European Union strictly regulates genetically engineered organisms that enter food sources and the environment, or otherwise make it onto the market.
A Bavarian court referred the case to the European tribunal after a beekeeper sued the state of Bavaria when in 2005 proteins from genetically modified corn were detected in pollen and honey 550 yards from research plots.
The German state of Bavaria had been growing genetically modified maize developed by Monsanto, after the company received special permission to introduce the crop and related products into the European market in 1998.
The corn's genes include inserted DNA code from a bacterium, which poisons a type of butterfly that can plague the corn as a parasite.
Yves Bot, an adviser to the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union, found that although GMOs have the ability to replicate beyond their original intended purpose, the modified proteins found in pollen and honey cannot be considered "organisms" since they do not stay alive after the pollen dries out.
But these products, which the Bavarian beekeeper sold, should still be regarded as containing GMOs, regardless of whether inclusion of the modified proteins was planned or not, Bot said.
The presence of such substances must be authorized, Bot concluded. The court, though not required to follow the opinions of its advisers, usually does.
European governments and consumers have for decades rejected genetically modified foods, though recent regulatory policy may indicate that this is changing.
Despite a 2005 "Eurobarometer" survey indicating that 58 percent of Europeans are apprehensive about such foods, the European Commission last year approved planting of a potato genetically modified by German chemical company BASF for enhanced starch production.