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martes, diciembre 18, 2012

The Impact of GMO on Chilean Beekeeping

Esto lo escribí para la RAN y también se la mande al INDAP. Al parecer desde Europa levantaron la pregunta en busca de justificar un cambio de regulación que deje asentado que el polen es un constituyente de la miel y no  un ingrediente como pretendió justificar la Corte Europea erróneamente.

How does the OGM issue had affected the Honey Sector of Chile?

There are around 10.500 beekeepers at Chile holding around 500.000 beehives. This figures comes out of the 2007 National Agricultural Census, and the subsecuent National Beekeeping Survey of 2008 (http://www.ine.cl/canales/sala_prensa/noticias/2009/noviembre/not3011009.php )

At Chile there is no implemented way to have a montly or yearly statistic of the beehive health (Winter mortality or the like), nor monthly hives number variation, neither the amount of beekeepers, therefore most of the “data” comes out of conversations and reports gathered from the local organizations and in meteorological emergencies (droughts, cold spells, etc) from the governmental Ag. Service Agencies (Indap. Prodesal, Proder, etc).
Another source of information is the Custom Export  Report that can be accesed for free through some governmental institutions (www.odepa.cl or www.prochile.cl ) or by accesing a commertial service like www.idsnegocios.cl

One beekeeper of Chile through his blog Apiaraucania have been following the GMO Issue collecting, procesing and publishing diferent aspect of this problem.  ( http://apiaraucania.blogspot.com/search/label/transgenicos )

Based on this sparse information we can conclude that the main impacts of the GMO Issue have been

1.- Starting in June 2011 a slow down of honey export , to an almost stand still by septiembre 2011 (Court resolution sept 6th).
2.- A clear reduction in Price (from average of FOB us$3.74 in 2011 to FOB us$3.03 in 2012).
3.-  A reduction of export towards the UE and and increase towards USA
4.- Highier prices for Fair Trade.

On a more subtle but not less important aspect of the problem, this market issue made that payment chain got interrupted from the importer to the exported to the producer in a critical time of the year (autumn). The need of GMO analisys implicated a delay in the payments (as well as, a 1/6 increase in cost per 300 kg barrel).

In parallel the Chilean Government (through INDAP) because of bad or lack of information decided that because the honey market got interrupted they should stop the help to the sector. The two above aspects, ie. A payment delay and no help from Ag.governmental institutions, ended up meaning a lost of future for many small beekeepers.

With out cash and prospects many beekeepers didn’t do the necessary managment, particularly with respect to varroa and nosema, which in turn mean that by the next spring (august 2012) many hives or directly didn’t made it through the Winter or were in really bad shape. The estimation is a total loss of between 30% to 40% of the 500.000 chilean colonies by september 2012 after the cold spell o National Days.

In summary all this GMO issue of considering pollen and ingredient and not a constituent of honey for the chilean beekeeping sector have had desastrous consecuences. The beekeeping sector is more than honey. The pollination aspect is critical in a country reknowed by its fruit export, most of it dependant on entomological pollination, particularly honey bees.

The beekeeping sector, because of bad meteorological conditions (drought) was decreasing it production since 2008 as can be seen in graph 2. This was not noticed because prices were increasing some how reducing the impact of lower productions, maintaining almost constant total money.  When the priced decreased and the market stoped because of this GMO Issue, the whole sector went down.

This season 2012-2013 will show how dramatic have been the impacts. Meteorologically this season is very different tan previous ones. Cold but wet in the south, Cold and still dry in the central área of the country.  Probably the honey bee numbers have been recovered but not the honey production, therefore the beekeeping sector is still in an unstable equilibrium.

Not easy times to be a beekeeper.

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