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Friday, 10 January 2014

Biofuels for the Bee

The BBC warns us that, due to a shortage of bees, the production of oil-seed rape is at risk. The rape-seed oil being a major crop in the production of biofuels. This is apparently down to an EU ruling that 10% of fuel should be biofuel.
Some kind of bee, definitely not on oil seed rape

There's a bee shortage because of the widespread use, it is believed, of neonicotinoid pesticides. The good news is that the EU has banned these chemicals now.

But what crop was being sprayed with these pesticides? Oil-seed rape. And why was it important to spray them so much? To get the yields up. And why was oil-seed rape getting so popular? Because of biofuels.

So the EU has issued a directive to ban the use of chemicals, that were being used in an attempt to meet an EU directive. Or, to look at it another way, in order - allegedly - to protect the environment, the EU has managed very seriously to damage the environment. And the costs of trying to fix that will presumably be either a reduced chance of meeting the biofuels requirement, or the ploughing-up of more land,

Oil-seed rape is also heavily dependent on the use of artificial fertilisers, which have to be manufactured, often by using natural gas. So we increase our use of fossil fuels, to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

Some things I think we should ponder:
Things are normally more complicated than we think.
Our actions often produce unintended consequences.
If you want to save the planet, ride a bike.
In a hungry world, crops are for eating, not driving.


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