MEXICO CITY – The illegal cultivation of genetically modified soybeans on the Yucatan peninsula could severely affect honey exports to Europe, at a time when Mexico is seeking to promote its products in international markets.
On occasion of World Bee Day, celebrated on May 20, the European Federation of Honey Packers & Distributors (FEEDM) warned Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto that the quality of the honey produced on the peninsula could be affected because of the use of pesticides on GMO soybean crops.
The FEEDM said in a letter to the president that it supports a campaign launched since 2012 by Maya beekeepers to stop the cultivation of GMO soybeans, as “almost half of Mexico’s honey exports go to Germany.”
“German consumers don’t like GMO, and not at all in honey,” Manfred Fürst, head of the international division of Naturland, said in the letter.
Naturland is an association representing 52,000 organic growers and food processors in 52 countries.
“Germany is a major honey importer because only some 20% of its demand can be satisfied by domestic production,” the letter adds.
The FEEDM, whose members account for some 90 percent of total honey imports to Europe, expressed its concern regarding rising bee mortality due to the use of pesticides in industrial agriculture.
“What we need is greater organic diversity on our meadows and fields, rather than more agro-chemicals,” Hubert Heigl, head of Naturland, said.
The Yucatan peninsula is an important habitat for numerous wild bees and honey bees.
This habitat, however, has been severely affected since 2012 because of deforestation to make room for the cultivation of Monsanto genetically modified soybeans, which require large quantities of pesticides and herbicides.
Before 2012, three quarters of the honey produced in the region was exported to Europe, providing livelihoods for 15,000 Maya families.
Since the cultivation of GMO soybeans started, bee mortality has increased and honey production has declined.
After a three-year legal battle, Mexico’s Supreme Court outlawed the cultivation of GMO soybeans on the Yucatan peninsula in 2015.
Monitoring missions, however, have discovered that GMO soybeans continue to be illegally cultivated in the region.