Apicultural Review Letters

Letter # 6
2005 November 25


Negative Side Effects Of Genetically Modified Crops On Honeybees

In lectures on genetically modified plants given at APIMONDIA 2005 in Dublin, Dr. D. Babendreier from Switzerland has the direct effect on beelarva looked into. If the genetically modified maize plants are producing an inhibitor, which interrupt the digestion of protein (Protease-inhibitor), the fodder glands of the nurse bees were clearly smaller. Protein fodder for bees contains very often parts of soy. Genetically modified soy are being cultivated in many countries, thus bees are able to contaminate themselves „by indirection" with genetically modified products. . Dr. R. Siede from Germany analysed several kinds of protein fodder for bees regarding components of genetically modified soy. In four of eleven products genetically modified material was detected. On top of that he analysed honey from bees fed with such protein fodder for bees. Also here components of genetically modified soy were found in several samples. The investigations of Jenny Walker (Great Britain) turned out that cultivation of genetically modified rape, maize and sugar beets cause an direct decline of the associated flora to agricultural crops and wild plants at the field margin. At the same time there was a decline of pollinators and a species impoverishment. (Dbj 11/05, p. 499)

A common practise to spread forbidden products (for instance bioengineered pigs), is, to sell them accidentally to market:

„The FDA has officially closed its investigation on a 2003 food safety mishap, wherein nearly 400 bioengineered pigs, developed for research, mistakenly ended up in the U.S. food supply. The University of Illinois says it accidentally sold the pigs to a livestock dealer, instead of incinerating them, as is required by law. The FDA claims it cannot make a statement regarding potential risk to human health, given the fact that the researchers kept insufficient records. The mishap follows on the heels of a similar situation occurring in 2001, when genetically engineered pigs were stolen from the University of Florida, and later turned up in the sausage served at a funeral in High" (OB #66)

A new British study, funded by the British government and the bioengineering industry, turns out that growing genetically engineered crops - also if they are cultivated only for one year - contaminates the arable land for at least 15 years. Last but not least bees and beekeepers are concerned:

„Scientists examined various test plots of GE  oilseed rape and found that even if a farmer were to grow the GE plant for only one season, the plants would continue to grow year after year, contaminating future harvests. The study reveals that nine years after growing the GE rape plants, two plants were found to be growing on every square meter. After 15 years, there was still one GE plant growing per square meter. The British government is using this data to fortify its decision to uphold a ban on growing GE crops". (OB #67 )

Looking for food outside of the EU: The first time genetically engineered rice appeared in supermarkets. In China (province Hubei) genetically modified rice was found in three branches of Carrefour, the second largest supermarket worldwide. (EN 3/05, S. 3) The spread of genetically engineered papayas in Thailand for instance is no rarity. Contaminated seeds were sold to 2600 farmers. But not only in Thailand consumers eat unknowledgeable these kinds of genetically engineered fruits, also consumers in Europe and Asia are probably concerned by export. (EN 3/05, p. 2)

Fortunately, genetically modified peas and rape are not yet to be found on fields in Germany. But you can find arable land cultivated with genetically modified maize in eastern Germany, for instance near Seelow, Neureetz, Neutrebbin, Heinersdorf in Brandenburg, as well as in the Hasselbachtal (Saxony). However, until now it is only about 400 ha. Austria, Hungary, Greece and Polen don’t allow growing genetically engineered maize because of still unknown risks. For years genetically modified soy mainly from Argentina and USA is being fed to cows. Although there is enough other food availlable, the companies Theo Müller und Campina/Landliebe don’t care about it. (EN 3/05, p. 2)

The „Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" reports, australian field voles had developed an illness of their lungs which was probably caused by eating genetically modified peas. Responsible for this illnes is probably a slightly modified protein (FAS, Nr. 46/05, p. 73) The trial had been stopped; the scientists didn’t want to take the chance to test the effect of the nectar on bees or the peas on human beings.

If you want to change a pea into a bean, it is no wonder that afterwards the bean-pea is no longer a pea; such thoughts are alien to these scientists. Without much further thought scientists like Mr. Thomas Higgins from the „Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation" try to realise some abstruse thoughts.

Only because it is said the cultivation of peas would bring a profit of hundret millionens of Dollar to australian farmers - if there wasn’t the common pea-beetle who regularly causes high losses - Mr. Higgens transmitted without much further ado the construction plan for a protein, which protects beans from predators, into the pea. Of course he had a short term success: The protein of the bean, Alpha-Amylase-Inhibitor, prevents in the pea-beetle the degradation of starch and makes it unpossible for him to digest his nourishment. The pea-beetles die by starvation. But it is pure superstition, supposing the protein during the process of modifying would in the worst case scenario have no other sideeffects. However Mr. Higgins and his crew prefer to change horses in midstream: „The Alpha-Amylase-inhibitor in the bean didn’t attract attention in respect of being allergical. But when the scientists fed the peameal with Alpha-Amylase-inhibitor to lab-mouses, they became ill. ... Meanwhile, the effects on the mouses were so dramatically, that the developement of the new kind of peas was stopped immediately. ... The genetically modified construction plan developed in the pea unexpected creative abilities. " (FAZ, Nr. 274, p. 34)

Mr. Higgens had the world on, as manny a scientist of Agro-genetic-engineering before and after him.

One is wondering about the thought-vacuum, which can be found at these kind of scientists; what a happenstance, that the heads are not being crushed. If there is an emptiness of thouht also around them in the whole Agro-genetic-engineering community, thus it is not possible.


Complete edition of letters published in Online-Magazine "Apiculture"

Copyright: Centre for Ecological Apiculture | Centre for Food Safety and Food Quality | Natural Apitherapy Research Centre