Sunday, March 25, 2007

U.S. Congress Asked to Probe Farming Practices as Cause of Bee Die-Off

Apitherapists issue ‘Passau Declaration’ on Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

(Passau, Germany, 3/25/2007) – An international group of researchers and practitioners of Apitherapy, the medicinal use of bee hive products, meeting in Germany today called on the U.S. Congress to investigate new farming practices as a possible cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

CCD, which results in a massive die-off of honey bees, was initially limited to hives in North America, but beekeepers in several European nations have recently reported a similar phenomenon. The cause or causes of CCD have not been determined. Experts say causes of CCD may include environmental stress, malnutrition, unknown diseases, parasitic mites, misuse of pesticides, or pollen and nectar collected by the bees from genetically modified (GM) crops that produce Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The problem could affect a third of the foods farmers produce and may have a severe economic impact.

See: Are GM Crops Killing Bees? (Spiegel Magazine)

See: Bee Shortage Could Sting Food Production (Fayetteville Observer)

On March 29, the Horticulture and Organic Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing called "Review of Colony Collapse Disorder in Honey Bee Colonies Across the United States."

The “Passau Declaration on Colony Collapse Disorder” was issued today at the conclusion of the 5th International Congress on Bee Products, Apitherapy and Apipuncture in Passau, Germany. It states:

1. We, the scientists, physicians, health practitioners and beekeepers participating in the Fifth International Congress on Bee Products, Apitherapy and Apipuncture,
2. Gathered here in Passau, Germany, in March 2007,
3. Determined to advance the understanding and use of Bee Products, Apitherapy and Apipuncture to promote human health and heal diseases,
4. Acknowledging the important role honeybees play not only in human nutrition and crop pollination, but also in the prevention and treatment of many diseases,
5. Dedicate ourselves unreservedly to the health and well being of the honeybee, the purity of bee products, and the livelihood of the beekeepers, all of which are increasingly threatened all over the world.

We are convinced that:

1. The massive losses of bee colonies in the United States are a warning we should take very seriously,
2. Rapid changes in the earth's climate, ecosystems and agriculture are increasingly adverse to the survival of honeybees,
3. New pesticides and genetically modified plants are being introduced into the environment without sufficient research into their potentially harmful effects on honeybees and the purity of bee products.
4. There is a serious lack of independent research into the environmental impact of new products and farming methods, because far too many of the scientists and regulators in this area have close ties to the chemical and biotech industry.
5. The major losses of honeybees not only threaten our food supply, but also deprive us of many substances, that are of increasing importance to the medical community. As bacteria become more and more resistant to all available antibiotics, hospitals have to be able resorting to bee products, like honey, to control infections.
6. Some of the most promising antiviral substances are found in bee products like Propolis and Royal Jelly. At the same time, bee products are among most effective methods to boost the human immune system. Given the growing danger of a global pandemic with new virus strains like H5N1, the availability of such products in large quantities and high quality will be a key factor in our ability to limit the spread of such a disease.

We are determined to:

1. Inform the public and the decision makers about the medical consequences of the continued decline of the honeybee population.
2. Call attention to agricultural practices that threaten the health of honeybee colonies and the purity of bee products.

We are asking governments to:

1. Fund independent research into the environmental impact of new farming practices, before they are approved for widespread use.
2. Change the approval process for agricultural chemicals and genetically modified crops to require long term studies that also take into account sub-lethal effects on honeybees.
3. Tighten the rules to avoid conflicts of interest in the research and regulatory community, when it comes to assessing the risks associated with new products and methods.
4. Provide funding for research and training in sustainable farming and beekeeping methods.

Contact: Walter Haefeker, member of the board of directors of the German Beekeepers Association, (Haefeker is also vice president of the European Professional Beekeepers Association.),; Dr. Stefan Stangaciu, E-Mail: or (

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