Buying Canadian honey in Germany
Published 12 July 2020 | Posted under Canada
OK, this post will not please everyone, but due to an EU court decision in Augsburg, Germany, I am no longer able to buy Canadian Honey in Edeka or anywhere else in Berlin. If you did not know it, Canada makes a unique style of honey that is unavailable over here in Europe - very spreadable, just the right taste, and great for all uses. The liquid honey people eat over here just would not satisfy Canadians. Ok, me to be more precise. This is the stuff I once was able to buy here. Now, it joins a long list of banned items.
Canadian Honey previously sold in Germany. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
It seems the beekeepers of Germany were not happy that GM pollen MIGHT end up in the honey bees in Canada produced. Fair enough. But bees fly around in a 50 km square area from their hive and will pick up whatever is in the plants they fly to. In Canada, lots of bees fly around Canola plants, but not all.
(Canola, if you did not know is a Rapeseed plant modified to grow with less cholesterol and suitable for the Canadian climate. Almost every Canadian uses Canola oils daily, so this plant is not a problem to Canadians. It is even sold in Germany, as far as I know but only to industry.)
Canola Oil not sold in German stores. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
However, bees from Eastern Canada hardly see this plant. So, beekeepers in Canada are penalized in Europe for what bees do in Western Canada. (Germany could fit into Canada about 18 times, to give you a sense of how large this country is).
However, the court in Augsburg decided to ban honey from Canada and other countries that use GM crops extensively. Fortunately, for Canadian beekeepers the ban has little impact as most of the Canadian honey is consumed locally or exported to the US. But for us expats from Canada who prefer the taste and texture of Canadian honey over the type produced here, it is a real nuisance. (See the full report here.)
FYI, the honey sold in Europe comes not only from Europe but from the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Canadian honey is well known to be of very high quality. Asian honey, especially from China, is well known to be of dubious quality. Reports have even emerged of some Chinese exporters selling what amounts to Corn Syrup packaged as liquid honey and bottled in the US and Europe. So, high quality Canadian honey gets banned, while cheap, poor quality Asian honey gets a free ride into Europe. Somehow, I think politics is involved in this.
Anyway, I wrote to Breitsamer, the big corporation that sells honey here in Germany and that imported Canadian honey, about the recent ban. This is there reply:
“All pollen in a 500g jar add up to only one quarter of a gram and the GMO-pollen are only a part of this, they still are in the honey.”
So, this microscopic bit caused ALL Canadian honey to be banned across the EU:
“The GMO-plants grown in Canada have a food-authorization within the EU, but only for oil and not for honey and pollen, simply because no one has thought of our product during the approval process.”
So, German companies can import Canola oil and even the entire plant, but not a microscopic bit in a 500 gram jar of honey. Somehow I think the Canadian beekeepers got stung by a local German beekeeper who was upset at GM crops next to his/her beehives. And the result - poorer quality honey flooding German stores.