Teresa Vanek

“It all comes back to [the bees].”

Teresa Vanek, of Bright Raven Farm and Aviary, is a farmer and beekeeper.

Like a few of the farmers I’ve spoken to, Teresa comes from a line of agricultural producers. Her grandmother was a beekeeper, inspiring her dad’s interest in bees. “We were like, ‘okay, Dad, have fun’”, but soon after, “we all got into it too.”

Teresa pointed out that there is no definition of “raw” honey, so “it’s good to ask beekeepers about how their honey is made.” Hers is strained once to remove clumps, but is not run through a filter. Filters are very fine and pressure would have to be applied; this process catches propolis and other health benefits, removing them from the final product. Some beekeepers do what they practice, while others make up their own rules, such as “not heating the honey past 120oF.”

As a beekeeper, it seems reasonable that Teresa’s “main concern are the pollinators”, but bees should be of concern for all of us. Even though Teresa’s parsley (a leaf plant) does not rely on bees, the person selling her the seeds does, so “it all comes back to [the bees].” Without pollinators, a $10 billion agricultural crop industry would fail. Unfortunately, on September 30, 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service added seven species of bees to the Endangered Species Act.


Teresa is most worried about the impact of pesticides on pollinators, but she acknowledged that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are important to consider, as well – “mostly because we don’t understand their impact. They were released too early.

Have you heard of Monsanto Canada Inc. vs. Percy Schmeiser?”

A canola farmer in Canada was successfully sued by Monsanto, one of the most influential agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology industries in the world, because their seed’s genetics were found in the Schmeiser’s. However, this finding was not due to Schmeiser stealing the seeds; it was because of contamination.

GMOs are said to boost food production levels, which would help in countries facing significant malnourishment, but “my father in law, who works at the USDA Lab at Cornell, says that with the Golden Rice Project, for example, the lab results are not reproducible in the field”.

So the question is, why are GMOs still used?




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