Golden honey, limpid, very pure. Although in theory the sweet product of bees can be “contaminated” by residues of medicines (if the bees have been treated with antibiotics) and by traces of genetically modified organisms (if the farm is located near fields where GMOs grow), in reality the regulations in force are very strict to try to guarantee the consumer a truly pure product.
Maybe too rigid. At least this is what beekeepers think, according to which the danger that traces of antibiotics remain in honey is infinitely less than the damage created by the deaths of bees that have been occurring in recent years due to the massive use of certain pesticides in agriculture. And with no more bees, goodbye honey, all right. But goodbye also pollination, with unimaginable consequences on the planet’s vegetation.
According to Massimo Ilari, editorial director of Apitalia (a periodical dedicated to beekeeping, agriculture and the environment), the causes of the thinning of the bee heritage are many while there are few medicines available and this above all because of the limitations of the law. : «For the so-called American plague – Ilari says – the law does not allow the use of antibiotics, while in other countries there are very high tolerance limits . Why this different proceed? The veterinary world is absolutely against the use of certain drugs. I am not saying that we beekeepers are in favor of antibiotics, but it is necessary to find a meeting pointamong the different needs, to solve the puzzle of the care of bees without polluting the product “.
Beekeepers also wonder why the use of medicines is accepted for other food products, therefore with possible “traces” in the final product, and for honey no: “Often reference is made to the Framework Law that regulated the sector (the 313/2004), speaking of it as the tool that solved the emergencies of our home beekeeping – continues Ilari -. But things are not quite like that. Yes, it is true, bees have become a farm, like cows and chickens, but beekeepers do not have any suitable legislative scenario available to guarantee safe production. All the opposite of what happens for milk, cheese, meat, eggs ».
And now the GMO issue is also appearing. The conclusions presented to the Court of Justice by the Advocate General Yves Bot, according to which the contamination, even if accidental by GMO of pollen and honey, did not exclude these products from the strict European regulations have aroused great concern among European beekeepers : ” placing on the market after risk assessment by EFSA, risk monitoring, specific labeling.
This is the case that gave rise to the discussion: in 2005 the honey and pollen that a German amateur beekeeper, Herr Heinz Bablok, collected in his hives located 500 meters away from the land that the Land of Bavaria (Freistaat Bayern) were contaminated. had cultivated a GM variant of maize for research purposes. Bablok then sued the Land of Bavaria, and the Bavarian Administrative Court, not knowing “what fish (or rather: what bees) to take”, asked the EU Court of Justice for an interpretation of the reg. CE n. 1829/03 (relating to genetically modified food and feed) to understand “whether the presence of genetically modified corn pollen in bee products constitutes a substantial alteration of the latter, so that their placing on the market should be subject to authorization “. According to Advocate General Yves Bot, contaminated honey and pollen are to be classified as food “produced from GMOs”, regardless of whether the inclusion of the GM material in these foods was intentional. Consequently, the obligation of prior authorization for its placing on the market applies.
For all these uncertainties on the problem of honey contamination and to protect a growing profession , which needs new skills and new tools, Anai (National Association of Italian Beekeepers) organized a meeting in Piacenza on Saturday 5 March at 3 pm: ” With this year’s conference – explains Massimo Ilari -, which follows the one held in the Senate on 25 February, we ask for a new approach to the residue problem, a revision of the Veterinary Police Regulations and to allow Italian beekeepers to treat the bees with regularly authorized and registered drugs. Finally, we ask beekeepers to be increasingly protagonists by bringing their needs and suggestions to the stage ».