Neighbour allows rape on his field

My neighbour rented his field to a rapeseed (Brassica napus or also Canola) farmer. The picture on the top of this page is already a history. Many naive people get childish happy when see yellow fields in may and june. They run into these fields to make pictures where there is only a person, yellow field, blue sky and nothing else. Then they fuel their cars with biodiesel and go to the shop to buy some of rapeseed oil for their salad, eat it and think they had a nice meal and their car is very ecological.

Life is different for those, who live near these fields. First of all it stinks. Second is, if you have bees, then forget about getting a good honey. People try to avoid buying such honey, because it’s taste is really nothing special. And if rapeseed farmer is not organic, then everyone knows a story about a yellow flower that has more than two pollen beetles. In such case farmer has to spray it with insecticide. Then bees will collect pollen and nectar from sprayed flowers and bring chemicals along to your honey.

Two years ago they used to spray during the day. There was a media fight between rapeseed breeders, who claimed chemicals are safe for bees, and beekeeprs, who claimed, their bees are dying. Bees just get stunned for a while, but then they get alright and keep on living, said rapefarmers. I was visiting a beekeeping seminar near to Rekova (Balvi reg.) where several thousands of hectars of rape are grown. They had a special propaganda activity – beekeeprs were taken to these fields where a farmer explained how ecological everything there is – he grows peas on the depleted fields, instead of busting nitrogen fertilizers, and if fertilizer is necessary, he caculates an amount precizely. Tries not to spray pecticides before the rain and he looks if there are pests at all. Everybody applauded for a single mans ability to obtain and work with huge amounts of land.

He was successful, because most of the things, expecially building for the grain storage, he did himself, he said. If somebody else does it, there will always be some fault. Of course, he has hired workers to help and especially to operate a hundred thousand each worth harvesters. He said nothing about his loans in the bank.

Of course, you can make people believe everything, but it shall not change the reality. Rapeseed industry grew and cases appeared when beekeepers lost all of their bees. Only then government took action and restricted spraying during the day. Theoretically bees fly up to 2 km to get their honey. In practice beekeepers claim they get rapeflower honey even if the field is 7 km away from the hive. During the times of the old (soviet) union, farmers had to inform beekeepers of the planned spraying day. Beekeepers then closed their hives early morning, so bees don’t go anywhere during the day. Now everybody is free to do as they want without responsibility to the others.

I happenned to be at my fathers home when rapebreeder arrived with his machines and chemistry. I have a drinking water well about 50 m away from a  field. Groundwater flows under the earth are of course much longer, so I sure will dring whatever he sprays there, so I went to ask.

He stopped on his giant tractor, looked at me like a king on the top of the high mountain without bothering himself to be polite and come down form his machine. It’s sulfur, he said. I am not spraying pesticides yet, but If I will, I do it in the night. You won’t even notice, because you will sleep in your bed tight.

I googled for sulphur impact on health and found out that it mostly destroys the nerve system. The way this man spoke to me already proves it.

I don’t understand. Is the money they make worth peoples’ lives? Alright, they get 700 EUR/ha direct payments (I do not promise accuracy of this money information), but they also must spend 500 EUR/ha only on fertilizers. But there are so much more other expenses, like seeds, labour, pesticides, taxes, fuel. Official studies say, that the relationship between the input of fossil fuel necessary to produce biodiesel from rape oil shows a ratio of 1:1.9 to 1:3. I’ve been told that this ratio is actually 2 units of fossil fuel to 1 unit of biofuel in northern climate and if you count not only the farmers expenses, but also how much fossil fuel is necessary to produce and transport fertilizers. For example, 98% of elemental sulphur is obtained as a co-product recovered from oil and gas production.

My aunt, some twenty years ago a chief of 2000 pigs farm, said that they tried to give rapeseed oil in large amounts to pigs. They grew faster, but in the end died of liver intoxication. Nowadays there is also a rumor, that if rapeseed oil is produced in a wrong way, it can be poisonous. So it turns out that rapeseed industry is a yellow myth for naive society just to launder away taxpayers money to the banks (usually big farmers have big loans) and agriculture machine producers (tractors and harvesters cost tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of euros).


About Pavels Melnis

Independent ecology activist, family farmer, gardener and forestkeeper. Musician: violin, guitar, singing. Hobbies: traveling by bicycle, learning to play different music instruments - accordion, piano, recorder flute, harmonica, drums; languages, theology, prehistory, logbuilding, repairing and recycling. Religious. Ecological. Love all things ethnic and traditional.
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