bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Monday, May 02, 2005

Rape in the countryside

Out cycling this weekend I noticed an awful lot of oil seed rape in bloom (I thought it was declining in popularity, but that's not the impression you would get in Hampshire). I looked for foraging bees -- but didn't see a single honeybee or bumblebee. There were plenty of mayflies though. Quite what they were doing there, I'm not sure as they only live for a day, so nectar is hardly the reason.

I've often wondered why some call oil seed rape “canola” -- and I've finally discovered why. It's short for Canadian oil where they developed a GM version.
Canola is a genetic variation of rapeseed that was developed by Canadian plant breeders specifically for its nutritional qualities and its low level of saturated fat. ...For 4,000 years, the oil from the rapeseed was used in China and India for cooking and as lamp oil. During World War II, rapeseed oil was used as a marine and industrial lubricant. After the war, the market for rapeseed oil plummeted. Rapeseed growers needed other uses for their crop, and that stimulated the research that led to the development of canola. In 1974, Canadian plant breeders from the University of Manitoba produced canola by genetically altering rapeseed. ... Each canola seed contains approximately 40% oil. The rest of the seed is processed into canola meal, which is used as high protein livestock feed.


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