I shouted with joy and grabbed a large glass bottle off the shelf at Just Foods coop. It was on sale. I then grabbed an extra "$2.00 off" coupon from a stack beside it.
What was I so happy about? I had a rare treat: a 32 fl. oz. bottle of organic canola oil for less than six bucks!
Why was this such an amazing find? Organic cooking oils are generally very expensive in this area. Organic canola oil is even more so... and it's hard to find.
I won't use canola oil unless it's certified organic.
I just won't. A large portion of the canola that's grown in the USA and Canada is genetically modified, and I go out of my way to avoid GMOs.
While I won't make a sweeping claim that GMOs in and of themselves are dangerous (with the exception of Bt corn, of course - who the heck wants to eat a plant that produces its own pesticide? Gross...), I will, however, point out that GMOs need to be sprayed with more herbicides and pesticides than should be allowed. They were designed that way.
GMO canola oil is dangerous.
Don't believe me? Ask some 2010 study participants in Quebec what they think. Or better yet... read the study about toxins that were present in the blood of pregnant women and their fetuses. You heard that right. Some of these toxins used in our foods pass through the placental barrier in pregnant women to effect their babies.
I don't make broad claims like "GMO canola oil is dangerous" lightly. Click on the link above, and read it for yourself. I'm not going in depth on this, because you need to see the facts as presented by the researchers themselves... not obviously biased people like myself.
Organic canola oil, on the other hand, is safe. Contrary to what many people will say about all canola oil coming from GM crops, the reality is that canola was created in the early twentieth century through selective breeding, which is very different from genetic modification. Selective breeding is a natural method that also produces those heirloom tomatoes we all love so much.
If you're still worried, however, since the word "organic" refers to the manner in which a crop is grown, rather than bred, look at the label. Spectrum, as an example, has assurances right where you can see them.
The Spectrum website even has a very informative pdf file that you can read that answers questions about the canola it uses.
As with anything you read, though, think critically. I found flaws. The paper is very outdated. It's time for them to do an update, considering it was published in 2004. This causes it to (possibly unintentionally) mislead the reader.
Take this, for instance:
"According to the preliminary 2000 estimates of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), of the 25 million hectares that represents the total global canola crop area, 11% are currently genetically engineered. The trend, however, is increasing to GMO crops, and thus organic and nonGMO detection programs like Spectrum’s will increase in importance to provide consumers with the freedom to chose non-GMO products."
What caught my attention was the year. 12 year old estimates are... well, old. So I went to the ISAAA website to check on the current status of GM canola.
The ISAAA reports that:
"Of the global hectarage of 31 million hectares of canola grown in 2011, 26%, or 8.2 million hectares were biotech, up from 23% and 7.0 million hectares in 2010." (Biotech Canola Annual Update in 2011)
That's not all, though.
The percentage in our neighboring Canada, which produces more Canola than any other country, naturally, is astounding.
"Current estimates using a new methodology shows 80 percent to 95 percent of total canola in Canada is biotech at 10.5 million hectares." (Crop Biotech Update)
So, yeah. It's a pretty big issue, and worth worrying about. The numbers in these quotes don't mesh up particularly well, at a glance, but that has to do with the publication dates. The Crop Biotech Update was published a bit later.
That being said, I'm happy beyond belief to find organic, non-GMO canola oil.
GMOs are designed by chemical companies as a way to produce plants that work well with their pest/herbicides, not to produce more food for the world. Anyone who believes otherwise is naive at best, and lying at worst.
So go look for that wonderful organic canola oil, and see if you can find a great sale price like I did!
*** For more information on global GM crops from 2011, check out Pocket K Number 16, on the ISAAA site - complete with pretty graphs.