|28 December 2018
THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear Friends and Colleagues
The Socioeconomic Impacts of GMOs on Beekeeping in Spain and Uruguay
In September 2011, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled that genetically modified (GM) pollen must be considered as an ingredient of the honey, regardless of whether it is an intended or unintended ingredient. Therefore, honey or pollen supplements containing GM ingredients would be subject to a special authorisation process before sale and would need to be labelled as a food product containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
A study explored the socioeconomic impacts on beekeeping in the wake of this ruling in Spain and Uruguay. In examining the relationship between GM crops and beekeepers, the study found that there have been socioecoomic impacts from the contamination of honey from GMOs themselves (in the form of GM pollen), and also from the co-technologies used in collaboration with GM crops (in the form of herbicides like glyphosate), from their role in perpetuating and extending industrial models of agriculture (in the form of large-scale chemically intensive monocultures), and from the attempts to implement regimes (in the forms of restrictions on freedom of movement and operations).
In Spain, significant social anxiety and economic market instability were created by the ECJ ruling. The lack of public registries of information on GM crop locations has disempowered beekeepers and has restricted the locations in which they can operate. In the case of Uruguay, most of the socioeconomic impacts are linked to the large-scale expansion of GM herbicide-tolerant monoculture crops and their associated co-technology (the use of herbicides). This technological package and the institutional arrangements required have resulted in the loss of agricultural biodiversity and recurrent episodes of contamination of beehives by agrochemicals.
The researchers stress that socioeconomic impact assessment must complement risk assessment practices for GMOs and should not only adopt a systems-based perspective towards the technologies but extend beyond a narrow range of affected actors to include all relevant stakeholders in agri/food systems.
With best wishes,