Canola: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bottle of canola cooking oil

Canola is one of two cultivars of rapeseed or Brassica campestris (Brassica napus L. and B. campestris L.).[1] Their seeds are used to produce edible oil that is fit for human consumption because it has lower levels of erucic acid than traditional rapeseed oils and to produce livestock feed because it has reduced levels of the toxic glucosinolates.[2] Canola was originally naturally bred from rapeseed in Canada by Keith Downey and Baldur R. Stefansson in the early 1970s,[3][4] but it has a very different nutritional profile in addition to much less erucic acid.[5] The name "canola" was derived from "Canadian oil, low acid" in 1978.[6][7] A product known as LEAR (for low erucic acid rapeseed) derived from cross-breeding of multiple lines of Brassica juncea is also referred to as canola oil and is considered safe for consumption.[8]



Canola field in Temora, New South Wales
Canola field near Bindi Bindi Western Australia

Once considered a specialty crop in Canada, canola has become a major North American cash crop. Canada and the United States produce between 7 and 10 million tonnes of canola seed per year. Annual Canadian exports total 3 to 4 million tonnes of the seed, 700,000 tonnes of canola oil and 1 million tonnes of canola meal. The United States is a net consumer of canola oil. The major customers of canola seed are Japan, Mexico, China and Pakistan, while the bulk of canola oil and meal goes to the United States, with smaller amounts shipped to Taiwan, Mexico, China, and Europe. World production of rapeseed oil in the 2002–2003 season was about 14 million metric tons.[9]

Canola was developed through conventional plant breeding from rapeseed, an oilseed plant already used in ancient civilization. The word "rape" in rapeseed comes from the Latin word "rapum," meaning turnip. Turnip, rutabaga, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard and many other vegetables are related to the two canola varieties commonly grown, which are cultivars of Brassica napus and Brassica rapa. The negative associations due to the homophone "rape" resulted in creation of the more marketing-friendly name "Canola". The change in name also serves to distinguish it from regular rapeseed oil, which has much higher erucic acid content.

Hundreds of years ago, Asians and Europeans used rapeseed oil in lamps. As time progressed, people employed it as a cooking oil and added it to foods. Its use was limited until the development of steam power, when machinists found rapeseed oil clung to water or steam-washed metal surfaces better than other lubricants. World War II saw high demand for the oil as a lubricant for the rapidly increasing number of steam engines in naval and merchant ships. When the war blocked European and Asian sources of rapeseed oil, a critical shortage developed and Canada began to expand its limited rapeseed production.

After the war, demand declined sharply and farmers began to look for other uses for the plant and its products. Edible rapeseed oil extracts were first put on the market in 1956–1957, but these suffered from several unacceptable characteristics. Rapeseed oil had a distinctive taste and a disagreeable greenish colour due to the presence of chlorophyll. It also contained a high concentration of erucic acid. Experiments on animals have pointed to the possibility that erucic acid, consumed in large quantities, may cause heart damage, though Indian researchers have published findings that call into question these conclusions and the implication that the consumption of mustard or rapeseed oil is dangerous.[10][11][12][13][14] Feed meal from the rapeseed plant was not particularly appealing to livestock, due to high levels of sharp-tasting compounds called glucosinolates.

Plant breeders in Canada, where rapeseed had been grown (mainly in Saskatchewan) since 1936, worked to improve the quality of the plant. In 1968 Dr Baldur Stefansson of the University of Manitoba used selective breeding to develop a variety of rapeseed low in erucic acid. In 1974 another variety was produced low in both erucic acid and glucosinolates; it was named Canola, from Canadian oil, low acid.

A variety developed in 1998 is considered to be the most disease- and drought-resistant variety of Canola to date. This and other recent varieties have been produced by using genetic engineering.

An Oregon State University researcher has determined that growing winter canola for hybrid seed appears possible in central Oregon, USA. Canola is the highest-producing oil-seed crop, but the state prohibits it from being grown in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties because it may attract bees away from specialty seed crops such as carrots which require bees for pollination.

Canola was originally a trademark but is now a generic term for this variety of oil. In Canada, an official definition of canola is codified in Canadian law.[15]

Production in the rest of the world

Africa: In the South of the Republic of South Africa,Canola was planted for the first time in 1993 in the region called the Overberg near the town called Swellendam. Swellendam's farmer's Co-operative, SSK- Sentraal-Suid Koöperasie started a oil refinery called Southern Oil Limited(Soill),according to the Afrikaans newespaper Die Burger's article on the 24/07/2009 it is the only Canola refinery in South Africa and refines about 3 500 ton per month.

Health benefits

Compound Family  % of total
Oleic acid
Linoleic acid
Alpha-linolenic acid
11%[16] 9%[17]
Saturated fatty acids
Palmitic acid
Stearic acid
Trans fat

Canola oil is low in saturated fat, is high in monounsaturated fat, and has a beneficial omega-3 fatty acid profile. The Canola Council of Canada states that it is completely safe and is the "healthiest" of all commonly used cooking oils.[18] It has well established heart health benefits[19] and is recognized by many health professional organizations including the American Dietetic Association, and American Heart Association, among others.[20][21][22][23] Canola oil has been authorized a qualified health claim from the US Food and Drug Administration [24] based on its ability to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to its unsaturated fat content.

Urban legend

An e-mail was circulated that linked canola oil to a variety of false claims that it was harmful to human health. This is considered an email hoax making unsubstantiated claims.[25][26][27]

Genetic modification

Canola field in Saskatchewan

Genetically modified canola which is tolerant to herbicide was first introduced to Canada in 1995. Today 80% of the acres sown are genetically modified canola.[28]

Legal Issues

Genetically modified canola has become a point of controversy and contentious legal battles. In one high-profile case (Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser) the Monsanto Company sued Percy Schmeiser for patent infringement after his field was contaminated with Monsanto's patented Roundup Ready glyphosate-tolerant canola. The supreme court ruled that Percy was in violation of Monsanto's patent because the crops were growing on his land, but he was not required to pay Monsanto damages since he did not benefit financially from its presence.[29] On March 19, 2008, Schmeiser and Monsanto Canada Inc. came to an out-of-court settlement whereby Monsanto would pay for the clean-up costs of the contamination which came to a total of $660 Canadian. [30]

The introduction of the genetically modified crop to Australia is generating considerable controversy.[31] Canola is Australia's third biggest crop, and is often used by wheat farmers as a break crop to improve soil quality. As of 2008 the only genetically modified crops in Australia were non-food crops: carnations and cotton. In 2003, Australia's gene technology regulator approved the release of canola altered to make it resistant to the herbicide Glufosinate ammonium.[32]

Other facts

See also

An in-depth analysis of canola oil:


  1. ^ Brown, J; Thill DC; Brown AP; Mallory-Smith C; Brammer TA & Nair HS (1996). "Gene transfer between canola (Brassica napus L.) and related weed species". Annals of Applied Biology 129 (3): 513–22. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7348.1996.tb05773.x. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  2. ^ "Canola". Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  3. ^ "Richard Keith Downey: Genetics". 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  4. ^ Storgaard, AK (2008). "Stefansson, Baldur Rosmund". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  5. ^ Barthet, V. "Canola". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  6. ^ "What is canola?". A problem with weeds – the canola story. Biotechnology Australia (Australian Government). Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  7. ^ Klahorst, Suanne J. (1998). "Dreaming of the Perfect Fat". Food Product Design (Virgo Publishing). Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  8. ^ "Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed (Lear) Oil Derived From Canola-quality Brassica juncea (L.) CZERN. Lines PC 97-03, PC98-44 AND PC98-45". Health Canada. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  9. ^ USDA. "Agricultural Statistics 2005" (pdf). 
  10. ^ Ghafoorunissa (1996). "Fats in Indian Diets and Their Nutritional and health Implications". Lipids 31: S287–S291. doi:10.1007/BF02637093. PMID 8729136. 
  11. ^ Shenolikar, I (1980). "Fatty Acid Profile of Myocardial Lipid in Populations Consuming Different Dietary Fats". Lipids 15(11): 980–982. 
  12. ^ Bellenand, JF; Baloutch, G; Ong, N; Lecerf, J (1980). "Effects of Coconut Oil on Heart Lipids and on Fatty Acid Utilization in Rapeseed Oil". Lipids 15(11): 938–943. 
  13. ^ Achaya, KT (1987). "Fat Status of Indians - A Review". Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research 46: 112–126. 
  14. ^ Indu, M; Ghafoorunissa (1992). "n-3 Fatty Acids in Indian Diets - Comparison of the Effects of Precursor (Alpha-Linolenic Acid) Vs Product (Long chain n-3 Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids)". Nutrition Research 12: 569–582. doi:10.1016/S0271-5317(05)80027-2. 
  15. ^ "Canola Varieties". Canola Growers Manual. Canola Council of Canada. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  16. ^ a b c d "Comparison of Dietary Fats Chart". Canola Council of Canada. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  17. ^ a b c d USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21 (2008)
  18. ^ "Canola Oil: The truth!". Canola Council of Canada. Retrieved 2007-10-20. "Canola oil is the healthiest of all commonly used cooking oils. It is lowest in saturated fat, high in cholesterol-lowering mono-unsaturated fat and the best source of omega-3 fats of all popular oils." 
  19. ^ de Lorgeril, M; Salen, P (2006-02-09). "The Mediterranean-style diet for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases". Public Health Nutr: 118–23. 
  20. ^ "Canola Oil: Good for Every Body" (PDF). American Dietetic Association. 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  21. ^ "Know Your Fats". American Heart Association. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  22. ^ "Protect Your Heart: Choose Fats Wisely" (PDF). American Diabetes Association. 2004. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  23. ^ "AAFP 2006-Changing the Landscape of Chronic Disease Care". American Association of Family Physicians 2006 Scientific Assembly. 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  24. ^ "Qualified Health Claims, Letter of Enforcement Discretion U.S. Food and Drug Administration". 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  25. ^ Mikkleson, Barbara and David P. (2005). "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Canola Oil and Rape Seed". Snopes. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  26. ^ Edell, Dean (1999). "Canola Oil: Latest Internet Hoax Victim". Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  27. ^ Zeratsky, Katherine (2009). "Canola Oil: Does it Contain Toxins?". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  28. ^ "Canola Facts: Why Growers Choose GM Canola". Canola Quick Facts. Canola Council of Canada. Retrieved 2007-10-20. "GM or transgenic canola varieties have been modified to be resistant to specific herbicides. They are called herbicide-resistant varieties. The plants are modified, but the oil is not modified. It is identical to canola oil from non-modified or conventional canola. Herbicide-resistant GM canola is grown on about 80% of the area in western Canada. GM canola was first introduced in 1995." 
  29. ^ "Monsanto vs. Percy Schmeiser". Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  30. ^ "Monsanto vs Schmeiser: In the Spotlight...". Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  31. ^ for example Price, Libby (2005-09-06). "Network of concerned farmers demands tests from Bayer". ABC Rural: Victoria (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2007-10-10.  and "Greenpeace has the last laugh on genetic grains talks". Rural news (Australian Broadcaasting Corporation). 2003-03-13. Retrieved 2007-10-20.  also Cauchi, Stephen (2003-10-25). "GM: food for thought". Science article (The Age). Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  32. ^ "GM canola gets the green light". National News (Sydney Morning Herald). 2003-04-01. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  33. ^ Fats that Heal, Fats that Killby Udo Erasmus.
  34. ^ Canola Council of Canada - Canola Facts: Why Growers Choose GM Canola
  35. ^

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also canola



Etymology 1

Canadian Oil, Low Acid




Canola (uncountable)

  1. Trade name for rapeseed oil.

Etymology 2

Probably Celtic

Proper noun



Canola (uncountable)

  1. (mythology) Mythical inventor of the harp.
  2. A given name for females.

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