On a Thursday in November, an event was held at the Prince Regent Theatre in Munich celebrating the 5-year anniversary of GMO cultivation free Bavaria. Since 2009, no genetically modified crops have been grown and especially thanks to the efforts of beekeepers not been planted for research purposes since 2010 in Bavaria.
Walter Haefeker, who gave a presentation about colony collapse disorder to the EPA San Francisco office in 2010 and was featured in a WSPPN Webinar last year, received the Bavarian State Medal for his outstanding contribution to the environment. The German Professional Beekeepers Association welcomes the clear position of the Bavarian State Government and is delighted to see, that the Free State of Bavaria earlier this year officially became the 62nd GMO Free farming area in Europe, by signing the GMO Free agreement in Brussels, with the President of the European GMO Free network, Maura Malaspina, the Environment Minister for the Marche region of Italy.
Walter Haefeker is a professional beekeeper in Bavaria, south of Munich (Germany). He serves on the board of directors of the German Professional Beekeepers Association and as President of the European Professional Beekeeping Association. In this capacity he has worked on the critical issues facing Beekeepers today including pesticides, GM-crops and intensive agricultural practices.
Serving as the President of the European Professional Bee Keepers Association, Walter helped lead the European beekeeping community’s efforts to support the EU Commission’s 2013 proposal to restrict the use of 3 neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for seed treatment, soil application (granulate) and foliar treatment on bee attractive plants and cereals.
Walter also helped initiate cooperation with the German Biogas Producers organization to replace corn with flowering plants to produce renewable energy and honey while promoting biodiversity and regenerating soil. He introduced a new international “bee friendly” label developed and owned by the beekeeping community, which is designed to mobilize consumer demand for certified bee-friendly production.
He is authored many articles, has made presentations and presented papers at scientific conferences dealing with the coexistence issues around GM-crops, and was featured in the 2010 documentary “Nicotine Bees.” Under his leadership, the German Professional Beekeepers Keynote Association of independent German dairy farmers launched a “Fair Milk” product designed to use bee friendly methods of feed production and land management. Walter’s beekeeping operation is certified organic.
In the subsequent panel discussion after the November awards presentation, those present agreed that the Free State of Bavaria and the representatives of the ruling party (CSU) will play a special role in the upcoming weeks and months when the EU is considering the rules for the so-called opt-out plan. The unmodified implementation of the decision just taken by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament would finally create a solid legal foundation not only in Bavaria for banning GMO cultivation.
Walter who has been invited to speak at Harvard in February is a successful reconnaissance and defender of a bee and environmentally friendly agricultural policy. Congratulations go to Walter for being recognized with the Bavarian State Medal.