EU food manufacturers will have to redouble checks ensuring ingredients are not contaminated with GM material after a ruling the from European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Judges have ruled that non-GM food sold in the EU has its character changed by any such contamination – becoming effectively a new product and so requires a new market approval authorisation.

“That classification may be made irrespective of whether contamination by the substance in question was intentional or adventitious,” the ruling said.

The case involves Bavarian honey contaminated with pollen from Monsanto’s EU-approved MON 810 maize.

Critically, the court said the leeway allowed in EU labelling laws allowing up to 0.9% of each ingredient to be accidentally GM without a declaration on packaging did not extend to market authorisation commitments, meaning even a minute amount of GM material would count. “That regulation may not be applied to that obligation by analogy,” the court said.