9/28/2011 12:12 PM
I met with Elisabetta, Communications Director, at CONAPI (National Beekeepers Consortium, Coltibatori – Biodiversity). CONAPI formed in 1978 to unite a group of young beekeepers. CONAPI has 800 members under 225 members including 4 Latin American Associations, equaling to 65,000 hives, 19,000 of which are certified organic, from every district except 2. 62% of the beekeepers are between 20-49 years old and 23% of the companies are women. (YOU GO GIRL.)
In Italy there are several different official organic certifiers and, “We ask our beekeepers to be certified by a few which we trust more! In these 30 years CONAPI has grown and, with other producers of organic food, has founded Alce Nero & Mielizia, who is one of the leading organic companies in Italy.”
Italy has 52 kinds of classified honey. Every honey has to have a percentage of pollen to be classified and each type of honey classification is different. There is a classification made by some honey experts which have found 52 kinds of honeys. “The government has decided to utilize a different set of parameters, but not pollen and has not officially classified the different kinds of honeys. CONAPI bottles only 8 of them. Conapi bottles under Alce Nero and Mielizia label, but also bottles under private labels, about 2,300 tons of honey (45% organic).” CONAPI decided it is important to show the consumers how tight the relationship is between the product and the producer, so has created a new line “I mieli della mia terra” (Honey of My Land) with the picture of the beekeeper.
In 2008 the Agriculture Minister and the Health Minister temporarily banned Bayer from selling their pesticides as it was killing the bees. Bayer denies this, in spite of the honeybees flourishing back to the numbers before the pesticides, and is fighting back with their attorneys. CONAPI is paying a lot of money, along with other beekeeping associations, to keep the ban, and have been successful. In 2008 the Agriculture Minister, a beekeeper hobbyist, decided to stop the pesticides for one year. This October the Health Minister will make his final determination on the pesticides. “We hope that he will make the final determination, because the researches on it are ready, but we are not sure that this will happen.”
Monsanto puts nicotinamide coating on the corn seeds to prevent diabrotica virgifera, which came from America in 1868, and mice. This kills the bees when the corn grows as it is in the plant) when it matures. In the past corn was usually rotated with other crops. With intensive farming, the corn is planted every year and weakens the soil. With a weak soil, the farmers use commercial products to strengthen it, which also affects the bees, as it stays in the plants.
FAI is the Italian Federation of Beekeepers that started in the ‘50s. It was designed to unite the small beekeepers across Italy. UNAAPPI branched off this organization and contains mainly the larger producers of honey. CONAPI works with both. Apimondia branched off the FAI and grew with its own purpose of working with the beekeepers worldwide.
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