What if I told you that there was absolutely no difference between canola oil made from genetically modified canola and canola oil made from conventional canola?
In the 1960’s, Canadian scientists used traditional breeding methods to develop a variation of rapeseed without some of the more undesirable characteristics. The result was canola. A canola crop, which can be quickly identified by its pretty yellow flowers, produces pods containing seeds. These seeds are about 44% oil and are used to create canola oil. It is primarily grown in the United States, Canada, and Australia, although there is a worldwide demand for the hearty-healthy product. (Source: U.S. Canola Association)
Like other crops, canola is susceptible to decreased yields when it has to compete with weeds for sunlight, water, nutrients in the soil, and space. As a result, canola was genetically modified to be herbicide-resistant. Like corn and soybeans, this allows farmers to spray herbicide on the canola field to kill the weeds without hurting the canola. Similar to other GMO crops, GMO canola enjoys less overall herbicide use and greater yields.
So, doesn’t that mean canola oil from genetically modified canola should be considered GMO canola oil?
Not so fast.
Canola oil from GMO plants is exactly the same from conventional canola plants. There was only one gene modified to create the herbicide-resistant characteristic. The modified gene is expressed as a protein. Much like the process for making sugar, processing the canola removes all proteins from the oil. That means that canola oil made from non-GMO canola and canola oil made from GMO canola is indistinguishable, even in the laboratory.