I have been reading a lot recently on the prevalence of Genetically Modified (GM) foods in our diet here in this country. For all sorts of detailed information you can check out An Urban Plot and GM Watch. I won’t try to cover all the details here but I wanted to bring one point to mind while you are picking out your next cooking oil…Have you ever seen a Canola plant? Olive oil comes from olives, peanut oil from peanuts…how about canola oil? Did you know that there are groups who want to make canola oil banned in Europe? Yup, the oil that health experts seem to be telling us is oh so healthy here in the US is the subject of a fair amount of controversy in other countries.
Is Canola Oil Banned In Europe?
What is canola oil? Here is a quick explanation: Basically, someone took a plant called the Rape plant (horribly bad name!) and modified it so that the resulting seed oil was non toxic. Prior to is alteration, rapeseed oil was toxic and used only in industrial practices. Since this was done in Canada, the name was created…CAN (Canada) O (oil) LA (low acid). The Canola Council states these modifications were done with old fashioned plant breeding techniques but today’s strains of plants used for Canola oil production are almost all genetically modified. Canada and the United States produce between 7 and 10 million tonnes of canola seed per year. Most of that canola oil comes from genetically modified plants.
There are a number of controversies regarding genetically modified foods. In my opinion, the concerns for human health and the environment are valid. These are plants that were artificially created and selected in a laboratory. I have nothing against science! I am a scientist myself and have actually worked in many labs like the one above. However, I do not feel that science should inserting genes into plants that will eventually become my dinner. I would love to see labeling requirements for products that contain GMO’s but pockets are deep in the government when it comes to food labeling laws. According to the European Food Standard’s Agency, “if a food contains or consists of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or contains ingredients produced from GMOs, this must be indicated on the label.” So, while no one has managed to get canola oil banned in Europe YEP, it does have to be labeled as a genetically modified food. Bet that cuts down on profits over in Europe, huh? And that is one of the reasons why the people at the top of the food production pyramid don’t want GMO labeling laws passed here in the US. Maybe there are people who don’t care if their food is genetically modified but if I was presented with a bottle of GMO canola oil or a bottle of olive oil, I would certainly skip the one that scientists created in the laboratory. My food should come from nature, not a lab!
So, what do you think? Stricter labeling laws, a complete ban on GMO foods, or do you just not care what you are eating?
Concerned about other oils in your diet? Read this post on sustainable palm oil!