master composter, worm translator, urban advocate, organic pioneer ...
A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.
Formic Acid - challenging the standards of organic honey
“In this era of increasing interest in a more natural and organic food supply, people are looking for healthy sweeteners like honey. One of the most natural, valuable and least harmful methods to produce that honey and fend off the Varroa mites, formic acid, is found naturally in beehives…However, the quantity needed to treat a hive exceeds what can be extracted from these sources, so a synthetic form has been developed. The U.S. Organic Food Production Act of 1990 communicates a clear aversion to synthetic ingredients, as found in TITLE XXI, SEC. 2105. [7 U.S.C. 6504]. Therefore, the evaluation process to use them is a lengthy and thorough one. Though other countries allow the use of synthetic formic acid in organic apiculture, it remains unavailable to certified organic beekeepers / honey producers of the United States, creating a significant marketplace disadvantage…The new list is not yet published, but at the recent October 2010 USDA National Organics Standard Board (NOSB) meeting, the organic community and the Board unanimously supported adding formic acid (for use in apiculture only) to the National List.”
This is a great article [click HERE for full article], and although I agree with the author about the importance of finding an effective and natural treatment for varroa mites, I still believe that SYNTHETIC materials should not be allowed to muddy our organic standards. It a 2005 USDA Technical Evaluation Report on a bio-pesticide called Sucrose Octanoate Esters (SOEs) - it’s clearly stated that the safety and efficiency of formic acid are still unknown.
“Synthetic forms of naturally occurring substances such as folic, formic, and lactic acid have been used for Varroa control, but have not been approved for organic apiculture (NOSB Apiculture Task Force, 2001). The safety and efficacy of these substances relative to SOEs are unknown.”
Call me a skeptic…but I’m still not a fan of formic acid as a treatment for varroa mites. Especially since I’ve seen natural remedies (such as eucalyptus and tobacco smoke treatments) drastically reduce the mite population in infected hives.