Boyko's Bees: Bulgaria GMO Act Puts Mankind at Risk

Editorial |Author: Henry Rowlands | February 2, 2010, Tuesday // 15:59|  views

Bulgaria PM Boyko Borisov attempted Tuesday to calm down the environmentalist lobby, after the recent protests against the new GMO Act, by stating "I guarantee that we won't have GMOs".

The Bulgarian Environment and Water Ministry soon, of course, followed their leader by confirming that the new changes in the Law on Genetically Modified Organisms will not apply to food and animal feed. They added that the scope of the new law includes only laboratory research and release of GMOs into the environment including field trials.

Even with this apparent clearing up of the problem, I wonder if the Environment Ministry really knows how important the last point in their press release was - as it could lead to the end of mankind! Now before you give up reading, after deciding that yours truly has gone completely mad, here is a quote from Albert Einstein: "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."

Yes the little bee has a very important role in the battle against GM Crops. Bees are 100% needed for the pollination of Bulgaria’s crops, particularly oilseed rape, sunflowers and beans and are therefore absolutely vital for the rural population of the country. In fact the value of honey bees' services as pollinators in the European Union has been estimated at over EUR 3 B per year.

The changes to the GMO Act would allow for field trials of MON 810 maize (produced by biotech giant Monsanto) as well as other GM crops to take place in Bulgaria. MON810 is the only GM crop grown commercially on a large scale in Europe, and has so far been banned in 7 European countries, including Greece and Germany but not Bulgaria.

What is the link between bees and the GM Maize that could be grown in Bulgaria?

Well, bees collect pollen for food and in the US it has been found that pollen from maize fields can make up to 20% of the total collected by bees from nearby hives. It was recently made clear by many environmental organizations that domestic bee populations are in steep decline in areas where GM maize is grown. Wild bees, which are also vital for the survival of many of our wild plants, as well as being important for crops, have also started to disappear in these areas.

The theory goes that the genetic modification of the plant leads to the concurrent genetic modification of the flower pollen. When the flower pollen becomes genetically modified or sterile, the bees will potentially become malnourished and die of illness due to the lack of nutrients and the interruption of the digestive capacity of what they feed on through the summer and over the winter hibernation process.

Recently Walter Haefeker, a director of the German Beekeepers Association (DBIB) and vice president of the European Professional Beekeepers Association, warned that "the very existence of beekeeping is at stake," over this threat.

In addition, research has also found that bees can pass proteins from nectar unchanged into honey. If GM crops produce novel proteins or toxins in the nectar as well, this may further threaten the safety of the honey produced from areas where GM crops are grown.

GM plants may also contain genes which provide resistance to commonly used antibiotics such as ampicillin. There is concern that these could be passed on to the bacteria that live in humans and animals. DNA from pollen has been found to be able to survive in honey for seven weeks.

In spite of the risks, there has been almost no safety testing of GM pollen, either for humans or for bees!

In the specific case of Bulgaria, the government and PM Boyko Borisov have not yet shown that they are against GMOs, despite the soundbites. Sadly if they don't take swift action by banning MON810 they will not be able to stop the eventual destruction of the Bulgarian environment. Please Boyko save the bees before its too late!

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Tags: GM crops, bees, GMOs, Boyko Borisov, European legislation


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