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John Burns' Blog

Food speculators; Bumblebees

Published: Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Food speculators 
Food prices are rocketing again which is making most of us a little uncomfortable. Food for us and our pets is becoming more expensive. For millions of people in the world it is a matter of life and death. Wheat and maize are up over 70% in the last year. After the spike in prices in 2008 is there a shortfall in food production?  An article by Aditya Chakraborrty explains what is happening.

In the early 90s, commodities including food became a focus of interest for investors. In 2000 USA Congress changed the law to allow pension funds to invest in food commodities. Then the dot.com bubble collapsed. Between 2003 and 2008 the amount of money available to commodity fund managers went up from $13 billion to $317 billion as investors chased profits. Speculators are making huge profits and poor people are going hungry because they can’t afford the inflated prices for food. Read more in the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/07/bankers-politicians-food-betting-game  

How much do you know about bumble bees? Before Sunday I didn’t know much either. Pippa and Natasha from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust came to Kidwelly on Sunday to deliver a teach-in to Burns staff. We then went on a bumblebee search-and-capture mission in Burns’ gardens and fields. It was fascinating stuff.  I think I can now tell a Garden bumblebee from a Buff-tailed Bumblebee although I’m not so sure about distinguishing the Field Cuckoo Bumblebee from the Forest Cuckoo Bumblebee.

There are a lot of bumblebees in that last paragraph which is unfortunately not the case for the British countryside. Most native species are in decline thanks to the loss of 97% of our flower-rich meadows (not at Burns –we’re putting them back). As well as being appealing insects, they are economically significant. We know that honey bees are important for pollinating plants; the bumblebee is much more effective thanks to its long tongue (think “Deep Throat”).
You can help by becoming a member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust - www.bumblebeeconservation.org

Here’s a question.  What is Tillietudlem?
Is it;

  1. A town invented by Ken Dodd
  2. An ancient ploughing pattern
  3. A game between consenting adults in private

None of these – it’s the name of an Inn in the Clyde Valley. It’s just down the road from the Popinjay Hotel.

Surprisingly, my computer queries it but was unable to offer any alternative spelling suggestions.

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