dorset chiapas solidarity

October 31, 2015

Honey and GM Soya Beans Cannot Co-Exist

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:50 pm


Honey and GM Soya Beans Cannot Co-Exist




La Jornada, 29th October, 2015

Rémy Vandame*

On June 12, 2012, in this newspaper, we posed the question: “Honey and Genetically-Modified Organisms: An Impossible Coexistence?” At that time, the concern was about the contamination of honey by pollen from genetically modified soya beans, a crop that had just been authorized for large-scale planting in Mexico.

Today we can assert with much scientific evidence that coexistence is impossible: honey production will be irremediably and negatively affected by cultivation of GM soya beans. This assertion is supported by scientific, environmental and social arguments.

From the scientific point of view, it has been shown that contamination of honey with pollen from GM soya beans is inevitable. Based on the research itself, we know that the bees visit soya bean fields up to two kilometres from their hives. There have been no serious cases of pollution of Mexican honey until now, because soya is still cultivated in limited extensions (up to 16,000 hectares in Hopelchén, Campeche), and the bees still rely on other non-GM crops. But by expanding the areas planted with GMOs or extending the planting in approved sites, eventually what happened in Argentina will occur here. In Argentina, 28-percent of honey contains GM pollen. Therefore, it is not possible for honey cultivation to coexist with the planting of GM crops without GM contamination.

From an environmental point of view, the most serious is that the soya bean monoculture is grown on recently deforested land, without permission to do so, and it involves the use of glyphosate with undesirable short, medium and long-term effects. Data from SAGARPA [Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food] shows that between 2013 (the year after permits were issued for GM Soya bean) and 2014, the agricultural area increased to 9,594 hectares, and the soya bean area has increased to 9,449 hectares, quickly making up 24.7-percent of the cultivated area in this vast Municipality of Hopelchén.

Not only does the extension of soya bean cultivation coincide with the expansion of agriculture, but these extensions are taking place at the expense of original vegetation due to the immoderate, illegal logging of the forest. Losing forest area means the loss of a crucial resource for the bees. This loss affects both the production of honey and the bees’ diversity. [But it also affects] the biodiversity that is one of Mexico’s great riches and the basis for equilibrium in this agro-ecological system and many other systems. Finally, there are other harmful environmental impacts: water runoff [on deforested hillsides], soil loss, and so on.

The use of glyphosate in all the fields approved for GM-soya bean and others on offer today implies very negative impacts on the environment and health. Soya beans tolerant to this pesticide accumulate it in their tissues and it gets into food and also in to the pollen that, by contaminating the honey, also arrives in our diet. The World Health Organization has classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic in humans. By planting any GM crop resistant to this pesticide, its concentration is increased in food, water, and other implements for common and close use (e.g., cotton, among others). In Argentina it has been shown that exposure to glyphosate seriously affects learning and also the health of the bees. In short, the cultivation of GM soybean implies adverse impacts not only on the health of bees and humans, but on the environment as well.
The planting of GM Soybeans also has negative impacts on society. Their monoculture requires large areas, encouraging the concentration and dispossession of land. A prime example of this process was the purchase in 2008 of 5,695 hectares in the ejido of Xmaben, also in the Municipality of Hopelchén. In this way the territories and communities are being broken up at the expense of the agribusiness fields which only want to increase the scale of their businesses and obtain greater profits. This also undermines the sovereignty of the pueblos, their independence and their ability to produce their own food.

In short, after three years of careful studies and rigorous scientific analysis, we can say, without any doubt, that it is not possible for the planting of GM soya beans to take place alongside the production of honey without GM contamination and carcinogenic pesticide contamination. In addition, the planting of these GMOs leads to high rates of deforestation, harm to the health of bees, farmers and consumers, and negative environmental impacts one after another. Planting GMOs abolishes food sovereignty, promotes land grabbing and dispossession, and the disintegration of territories and peasant communities, with all the negative social consequences and injustice that this implies.

*Rémy Vandame is coordinator of Apiculture (Beekeeping) in the Program of Agriculture and Food with the Union of Scientists Committed to Society.

Translated by Jane Brundage



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