The biodynamic approach to keeping bee colonies differs fundamentally from conventional beekeeping, and is based on respecting their natural lifestyles. We call this ‘bee-centred' approach Natural Beekeeping - which, as practiced by the Natural Beekeeping Trust - is a much more sustainable alternative. It is practiced in several countries, including the UK. Our bees are in crisis and we have to find a more humane way to go forward where bees come first. Read more below.
Seeds beget life. In biodynamics they are held in the same high regard as soils. However, the last 60 years has seen developments which threaten the future existence and viability of the kind of seeds - open pollinated seeds - that have sustained mankind since the first agricultural revolution around 10,000 BC. Read more below.
The biodynamic movement is adamantly opposed to genetic modification (GM) in agriculture, gardening, and in food processing. Demeter standards forbids the use of any GM organisms and ingredients, including animal feeds; and also forbid cyto and protoplasm fusion techniques for seed production. For more information on the issues of genetic modification: GMO Myths and Truths, by Dr M Dr Michael Antoniou Head of Medical Genetics at Kings College London, and others
The use of antibiotics in biodynamic farming
In common with organic farming, the use of antibiotics is strictly regulated, and routine and prophylactic use of antibiotics is prohibited. This is in stark contrast to conventional industrialized and intensive farming systems, where routine and overuse of antibiotics is now acknowledged to significantly contribute to the widespread antimicrobial resistance that increasingly threatens human health. Our approach goes further. We believe that domesticated animals, are sentient beings, who deserve our respect and the best health and welfare care possible. We achieve this through humane management practices which mirror natural rhythms: constant observation, and careful selection of appropriate breeds, feeds and shelter form the basis of biodynamic husbandry. Organic, homeopathic, herbal extracts, and other natural remedies are used in preference to antibiotics. However, in justified cases of illness, and where deemed necessary to prevent suffering of animals, antibiotics are permitted. As a safeguard to human health, withdrawal times for animals receiving antibiotics are three times that of conventional farming before the animal is allowed into the food chain. The health and vitality of our stock is, and always will be, paramount. We believe our approach ensures maximum health and well-being for our livestock, born out by the daily experience of biodynamic farmers. Mitigating the use for the need of antibiotics, thus keeping their use to a minimum, benefits the well-being of our animals, and helps ensure their efficacy for future generations. To read the latest developments on the dangers of the widespread overuse of antibiotics in farming click here.
Is biodynamic food better for me?
Scientific research into the health benefits of organic food - which applies to biodynamic food as well - is well documented; for the latest on this, click here. In addition, repeated experiments for many years by people who grow and eat biodynamic food, and by biodynamic research establishments, confirms biodynamics regularly produces high quality nutrient-rich foods, that keep fresh longer, store better, and have greater vitality. Anecdotal evidence suggests that eating biodynamic food reduces allergic reactions and contributes to improved general health; and that milk from horned cattle is more digestible. Biodynamic farmers report that their livestock are more fertile, robust and healthy. During the BSE crisis no cases of BSE was reported.
Biodynamics and being a vegetarian / vegan
Today many people are vegetarian or vegan and they are so for a variety of reasons. For most, the reason is a striving to live by the highest principles and wanting to live in harmony with nature and the environment. Aware that animal manure as well as some animal parts, such as cow horns, are used in making the biodynamic preparations, they are keen to find out more to ensure that eating biodynamic produce doesn’t compromise their principles. Read more on this issue here
How gardeners can help
Gardeners are the natural guardians of open-pollinated seeds, and gardens everywhere, freed of commercial constraints, large or small, provide safe havens for their cultivation. Seed banks provide a last resort, but to be truly viable and sustainable, seeds need to be grown, and have their opportunity to be alive. What better place than your garden? Anyone can save seed from an open-pollinated plant and use the seed the following year. This has two benefits; gardeners and growers become more self sufficient and knowledgeable, which breaks the cycle of dependence on fewer and larger seed companies, and the seed adapts to the local conditions.
For more on the Seed Cooperative that is working intensively with these ideas please see: Seed Co-operative background article