Bees may have an unexpected positive impact on soybean yields, despite the crop's ability to self-pollinate.
"They are going to the flowers, but we don’t know yet what that means for the plant," said Matt O’Neal, a Iowa State University entomologist whose team discovered that 20% to 25% of bees carried soybean pollen. "The challenge is to see whether they affect yield. There is some evidence in scientific literature that they may improve yields."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has updated regulations for industrial boilers that are aimed at curbing emissions of acid gases, mercury and fine particulate matter. The agency estimates the ruling will cost U.S. manufacturers, chemical facilities and oil refineries between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion each year to meet the standards, which won't take effect until at least 2016.
The EU will soon implement regulations that will prevent food companies from claiming their products offer health benefits that haven't been scientifically substantiated. To date, only 241 of the 2,927 health claims submitted to the European Food Safety Authority have been approved. Companies that decline to modify their marketing claims in response to the regulations could face litigation.
The Indonesian Palm Oil Association has asked the government to temporarily slash its export tax on crude palm oil to zero in response to a similar move by Malaysia. "Ideally, it should be zero to allow us to compete with the rival, which applies zero percent," said Gita Wirjawan, Indonesian trade minister. "But will it support the development of our downstream industry?"
China could challenge Spain as the global leader in olive oil production within 10 years, according to El Mundo, a leading Spanish newspaper. The paper cites China's ready access to water and inexpensive labor as key factors in the growth of its olive oil production, which is expected to reach 59 million olive trees within a few years. "China's interest in producing olive oil is materializing now in such major plantations that in the not too distant future its emergence in international markets could be a commercial threat to Spain's leadership," the paper said.