Administrative, Standing

The Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) rejected an appeal of several beekeepers requesting more effective safety measures to be applied during the cultivation of genetically modified corn in order to prevent the pollen from contaminating their honey.

Between 2005 and 2008 the Bavarian State Institute for Agriculture (Bayrische Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft) established an experimental farm for the cultivation of genetically modified corn. The bee hives owned by the claimants are in the vicinity of this cultivation area and it was determined that the honey containing pollen of genetically modified corn is not marketable, because it cannot be authorised for food use.
The claimants brought an action in March 2007 in which they sought a declaration that they have a claim for more effective safety measures preventing the respective contamination of their honey in case of a continued cultivation of the genetically modified corn. The trial court rejected this claim by saying that further precautionary measures are not proportionate in light of the principle of coexistence of different production types.

The requested declaration requires there to be an actual and immediate threat of a rights violation. The respective corn will only be placed back on the market, if the pollen is also authorised for food use, which is currently being requested and in the process of being decided. Therefore, the Federal Administrative Court rejected the applicant’s appeal on the grounds that there is no indicator showing that the cultivation of genetically modified corn endangering the honey’s authorisation for food use will continue in the future.