The past five years has seen the commercialization of the first GM crops and their products in Europe. The next five years may well see their more widespread cultivation and use. Some of these crops, particularly GM oilseed rape and GM maize, are or will be visited by bees. This will have implications for beekeepers harvesting and marketing honey and other bee products from these crops, for the bees themselves as they feed on nectar and pollen from the crops and for other crops or wild plants that the bees may spread GM pollen too. This is the first of a series of articles that explore the interactions of bees with GM crops, the regulatory framework that aims to ensure the safety of the crops to human health and the environment, the wider issues that risk assessments must now consider before marketing consents are issued, and the farm scale evaluations of crops being undertaken prior to more extensive cultivation.