Fri 20 Sep 2002 at the National Beekeeping Centre 10am to 4pm. The British
Beekeepers Association, National Beekeeping Centre, Royal Agricultural Showground, Stoneleigh, Warwicks, UK CV8 2LG Tel: 02476 696679 Fax: 02476


To share opinions and concerns across the sectors of the Industry

To debate the definition and acceptability of "GM free" and "non-GM" honey

To consider the merits and future of the 6 mile hive exclusion zone.

Attendance: By invitation from the BBKA

Invitees 80 approx. max 2 per Association/Organisation

BBKA Member Associations (61)
Bee Farmers Association
First Honey Co-op
Scottish, Welsh and Ulster BKA
National Bee Unit
Honey association (importers)
IACR Rothamstead
Agricultural Biotechnology Council
Agricultural and Environment Biotechnology Commission
British retail Consortium
Local Authorities Co-ordinating Body on Trading Standards
International Bee Research Association
Food Standards Agency
QP Services
Coffee and Registration from 10am
Start 10.30 - Chairman: Glyn Davies BBKA
Position statements (10-15 mins) from possibly:
The Beekeepers dilemma - BBKA
The public debate - AEBC
The scientists - IACR Rothamsted
The retailers - BRC
The importers and packers - Honey association
GM Industry - ABC
The government position - DEFRA
UK Honey producers - BFA
GM supply perspective - SCIMAC

Lunch 1-2pm

The Debates:

1 is there an acceptable definition for GM free honey? If so what is it?
2 Is the 6 mile exclusion zone meaningful and necessary?

4pm conclusion and close.

BBKA GM Conference 20th September 2002

A Statement by The BBKA Chairman

The BBKA is holding a one day conference to consider the importance of the 6-mile hive exclusion zone from a GM crop and also to discuss the definition of "Non-GM" or "GM-free" as applied to honey. It will be attended by representatives of member associations and affiliated organisations. The government and the GM industry and research organisations will also be represented. All participants will require a written invitation and have recorded their intention to be present.

There has been some uncertainty and anxiety about this event. The correspondence and invitation for member associations were sent to association secretaries. Somehow information was obtained by individuals and organisations outside BBKA. Without checking facts with me or the General Secretary an extremely inaccurate so called "Press Release" has been circulated. This accused BBKA of being pressured by the government into participating in a "Rigged Conference" and suggesting that BBKA was being encouraged by the Government to abandon its standards on GM and honey and bias the meeting. This is totally false. There has been no request, no hint, no inducement, no pressure and no contact with the UK government on this issue except for BBKA's invitation for them to be represented and we have confirmation that there will be a government presence.

This is definitely not a BBKA/DEFRA meeting as has been suggested. Sure, the invited guests are largely from the GM industry, and relevant government agencies. There is a full spectrum of GM opinion amongst BBKA membership. This Conference, entirely a BBKA initiative, is an opportunity for members and friends to question and even challenge the nation's decision makers on the specific GM issues that affect beekeeping. We do not want our voices drowned out by the leading GM protagonists making claim and counter claim. This is our opportunity to be heard; the beekeepers' voice in the national GM debate.

British Beekeepers, their families and friends must be, almost by definition, the largest group of UK honey consumers. We are proud of the reputation and quality of our UK honey and all hive products. BBKA will always protect that situation. What has emerged from the deluge of polite and impolite messages of recent days is that it would be worth considering a meeting with other environmental agencies and the wholefood/organic organisations to explore common attitudes, interests and actions. We share a lot of ideals and concerns regarding GM matters and the environment generally. We have had an offer of financial support for such an event - not from the GM industry this time - and the government is also prepared to attend that meeting.

Incidentally and in the interest of complete openness, the September Conference buffet lunch is to be provided by the Agriculture Biotechnology Council - with no attached conditions! There is no other financial support for the event. But some will surely complain that there is no such thing as a free lunch!

The hope is that we will all come away from the event certain that beekeepers have been listened to and with a more common understanding of the high standards that we, BBKA, allied groups and the biotechnology industry, must set ourselves.

Glyn Davies