German Beekeepers set up bee hives in front of Bavarian parliament
German Beekeepers set up bee hives in front of Bavarian parliament and the Governor's office
The Augsburg administrative court in Southern Germany ruled on 30 May 2008 that honey containing pollen from MON 810 genetically modified corn is not tradable.
Although the judge recognizes that the plaintiff, beekeeper Karl-Heinz Bablok, is very adversely affected by this ruling because he is not allowed to sell such honey, it is the court's opinion that he has no claim to protection against the growing of GM corn.
However, the court also pointed out that the beekeeper can seek compensation from the maize farmer subject to private law. The judge admitted that the expansion of GE maize cultivation would lead to a situation where the beekeeper faces an irresolvable problem.
As you know, the Bavarian government is growing MON-810 Bt-corn as part of a bogus research project. A German court ruled, that any contamination of bee products with MON-810 will render these unfit to be marketed, because MON-810 only has approval as feed but not as food.
The court further ruled, that the beekeepers will have to move their hives out of the area to protect their products, but may sue the government for civil damages to recover their cost and losses.
This week, corn will start to bloom. The beekeepers are mostly hobbyists without the necessary equipment and with their bad backs, they need help moving their hives.
This is were we come in. On Tuesday, we as professional beekeepers did evacuate more than 50 hives for our fellow beekeepers with heavy duty equipment (easy loader etc.)
Now, we did not bring the bees just anywhere. We did bring them to the Bavarian capital Munich and set them up in refugee camps throughout the city and especially in front of the Bavarian parliament and the governor's office.
The bees, that have been driven off their land by the Bavarian government's actions were officially welcomed by representatives of the city of Munich, which has declared itself GMO-free, as well as members of the Bavarian parliament and the beekeepers associations here in Munich, who have offered to grant them "political asylum". There was the ceremonial opening of the entrances of the hives. It was a beautiful sunny day and the bees happily started exploring the city. They ignored the safety perimeter around the government buildings just as they ignore separation distances around gm-fields.
State television and radio and national and local newspapers were in on the story and were loving it. Bertram Verhaag has filmed the whole exodus with his crew for an upcoming documentary and a political TV-show, which is going to air Thursday night prime time on Bavarian state television.
This comes as a particularly bad time for the present Bavarian administration, since they are up for re-election in a few months and causing the flight of the beekeepers does not look good at all. In the above mentioned court case, the press reported, that the government attorney was pretty much silent and Monsanto's legal team did all the talking.
The greens in the Bavarian parliament have offered bills to help the beekeepers, but the ruling party has used a rare procedure to table the vote until after the election. This also looks bad and we are making sure the voters will be well informed about this.
For those of you, that are able to read German, I'm including some of the press coverage. The others still may enjoy the pictures, the press has published of our refugees. In the case of the nationwide paper "the Tageszeitung (TAZ), we made it onto the front page.
Overall, the press and the public have received our action extremely well. Several radio stations did broadcast this as a major news item throughout the day and citizens of Munich came to visit our refugee camps to show their interest and support.
We removed the bees from the government locations at the end of the day, but all evacuated colonies will remain in the city at several sites owned by the beekeeping associations until the end of the bloom of the gm-corn.
On the 27th of this month is an open house at one of the beekeeping facilities where the general public has a chance to visit the evacuated colonies and learn more about beekeeping in general and the issue of gm-crops and beekeeping specifically.
The teamwork between all beekeeping organisations, hobbyists and professionals, has been tremendous. Also, the city of Munich went out of it's way to welcome the affected bees. Some of us were invited into the Bavarian Parliament for lunch with several members, which we were allowed to attend in our beekeeping suits, which we had worn since 3:30 am, when we started loading the bees onto our truck/trailer in the affected region over 100km north of the city.