Friday, November 14, 2008

Bees Essential for Biodiesel

Pollinators are vital to agriculture yet are often taken for granted. The number of pollinators has been steadily declining, a dismal prospect that could have unexpected consequences for oilseed crop production and bioenergy as a whole.
By Anduin Kirkbride McElroy
Biodiesel Magazine, December 2008

High vegetable oil prices over the past year have reportedly driven most biodiesel producers to using yellow grease, animal tallow or palm oil as feedstocks, but vegetable oil remains an important and often preferred feedstock. The viability of oilseed crops is as important to the biodiesel industry as is the viability of an end-user market, which is why it’s in the industry’s interest to start paying closer attention to the health of pollinators.

As bees, moths, butterflies, beetles, bats and birds move about feeding on nectar and pollen, they are ensuring the reproduction of almost 90 percent of all flowering plants, according to the Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit advocacy group based in California. Pollinators help start the food chain; they are part of the food supply and they pollinate food for the wildlife higher up in the food chain. Without their actions, 75 percent of the plants humans consume as food, fiber, spice or medicine could not reproduce…

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