Sunday, October 9, 2011


With demand rising because of its supposed health benefits, Honey is an important commodity traded across the world. Though its chemical composition is almost similar to sucrose, the sweetness comes from Fructose and Glucose occurring in 38.5:31.0 ratio. However its value as a health promoting food is attributed to two anti-bacterial substances, Hydrogen Peroxide generating enzyme system and Methyl Glyoxal, besides presence of antioxidants such as Ascorbic acid, Chrysin, Pinobankskin, and Pinocembrin. The old Ayurvedic medicinal system of India has accorded very high place for Honey in its treatment regimes of a number of human ailments. Quality of honey depends more or less on the nature of nectar collected by the Bees and can vary significantly. Honey can even be poisonous if the Bees collect nectar from poisonous flowers. It is in this context that one has to view the recent controversy in Europe, surrounding Honey products generated from flowers of GM plants. Here is a take on this issue.

"Honey that contains traces of pollen from genetically modified crops needs special authorization before it can be sold in Europe, the European Union's top court said Tuesday, in a judgment that could have widespread consequences on the bloc's policy on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The ruling from the European Court of Justice came after several Bavarian beekeepers demanded compensation from their government for honey and food supplements that contained traces of pollen from genetically modified maize.The beekeepers had their hives close to fields where the Bavarian government was growing Monsanto's MON 810 maize for research purposes. The EU has strict guidelines on authorizing and informing consumers about foods containing GMOs – a policy that has caused problems for producers of genetically modified seeds such as U.S.-based Monsanto Co. that are used to much laxer rules in other parts of the world".
China, Argentina, Turkey, USA, Ukraine and Mexico are the top producers of Honey and the entire world depends on imports from these countries for meeting the demand for this product. Of course there are internationally agreed standards for Honey and the world trade is governed by these prerequisites. The Chinese supply of Honey made by Bees treated with antibiotics through third world countries to Europe and the US was in the eye of a storm last year, though the culprit country got away with its brazen illegal activities without receiving a rap on its knuckles, probably because of its economic clout! The latest controversy about GMO tainting of Honey is not going to die down soon because of the tight regulations in EU requiring labeling of GM foods. It is true that contamination of Honey with GM substances was an unwitting act beyond the control of the Beekeepers who are located near fields where GM crops are cultivated. Real possibility of such accidental contamination was responsible for the campaign against GM foods by the antagonists and till such times the GM foods are universally accepted or they are compulsorily mandated to declare on the label, it is not correct to allow cultivation of GM crops.

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