Britain's bee farmers are to seek an urgent meeting with the Government after Friends of the Earth (FoE) alleged that honey had been contaminated by genetically modified crops.
Traces of GM pollen had been found in honey bought in an area of England where GM crops in the Government's farm-scale trials programme had been grown last year, the green group said yesterday.
Two samples out of nine bought in the area, one of honey and the other of honeycomb, were found to contain "genetically modified components" by the Austrian Federal Environment Laboratory, to which they were submitted for analysis, FoE said.
"Friends of the Earth now has evidence that GM crops can contaminate honey," said Pete Riley, the group's senior food campaigner. "It is essential that the Government takes immediate action to protect this multi-million-pound industry from the GM threat."
The GM traces found were special genes for weedkiller tolerance developed for oilseed rape crops by the German agrochemical company Aventis. The area is understood to be in Oxfordshire. Brian Stenhouse, general secretary of the Bee Farmers Association of the UK, said members were being advised to move hives at least six miles from any GM crop site.
An Environment Department spokeswoman said: "The minute amounts of GM pollen found in honey pose no risk to human health."