Canola biodiesel crops could damage seed crops in Washington state

Here's a story from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about a negative side of the biodiesel boom we don't often hear about. In Washington state, where a canola "explosion" is underway in farmer's fields to make biomass. One sorta-villain here is Imperium Renewables, which regular readers will be well familiar with (see below). Imperium is building the world's largest biodiesel plant in Washington, and that means they need a lot of biomass. Oil-rich canola is the biomass of choice – and it becomes the other sorta-villain in the story because the plant can spread its pollen widely and so it mingles with crops other farmers are growing for seed (in our little analogy here, the seed farmers are the sorta-victims). One see farmer told P-I reporter Colin McDonald that it takes 50,000 acres to grow 3,000 acres of seed because "you have to have distance."

So, a bill declaring some area canola-free is making its way through the state legislature. It's expected to pass, but then the exact demarcations – which will come later and be drawn by the state Department of Agriculture - could be quite contentious. We haven't heard the last of this story.

Related stories about Imperium Renweables:
[Source: Colin McDonald / Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

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