Nutritional Anthropology

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We are completely independent and have no connection with the Canola industry. Our answers here are solely based on the rigorous application of evidence and rational argument.


There are e-mails going the rounds, hysterically denouncing Canola oil. They are nothing but dishonest, anxiety-making tittle-tattle. Here we debunk some of the more idiotic and misleading claims. The contents of this page are drawn from articles that appeared in the Natural Eating Newsletter from June 2002 to October 2002.

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The Mustard Gas Slur

Q: "Canola is a member of the mustard family of plants, and is the source for the chemical agent, mustard gas".

A: If a plant is to be condemned because it is a member of the mustard family, then we would also have to give up eating turnip, cabbage, watercress, horseradish, radish … and mustard!

As for being the source of mustard gas - what ignorant rubbish! Mustard gas is made in a chemical factory from chlorine, sulfur and ethylene. Dow chemical made it during WWI.

Mustard gas got its name from its SMELL -- similar to that of mustard, or garlic.

The Trans Fatty Acid Slur

Q: "Canola is a Trans Fatty Acid, which has shown to have a direct link to cancer".

A: Rubbish! This assertion is typical of zealots who will use any smear, however idiotic, to pursue their dishonest ends. Why not claim that Canola is racist - it wouldn't be any more absurd.

In fact, Canola oil is a remarkable cocktail of extremely healthy oils: monounsaturated oil (60%), omega-6 oil (22%) and omega-3 oil (11%). There is a remarkably low percentage of saturated fat (the 7% that remains). Not a smidgen of trans-fatty acid in sight!

The False Identity Slur

Q: "Canola is genetically engineered rapeseed."

A: Is Canola another name for rapeseed? Yes , and what of it? 'Canola' is a brand name for use within North America. In the UK and Europe it is sold under its generic name - rapeseed oil. The French think highly of "huile de colza" in all its forms including 'cold-pressed', virgin and organic.

The GMO Slur

Q: "Canola is genetically engineered rapeseed."

A: Is 'genetic engineering' the problem? If so, the American public has been eating genetically engineered French fries, tomatoes, ketchup, corn, tofu, soy protein, corn oil, and sunflower oil etc… for many years.

As it happens, we are against the principle of genetic engineering; it is a Gadarene rush away from our naturally adapted food supply.

So wake up America -- it is impossible to know whether a product is genetically engineered -- the labels don't volunteer the information. If you want to be sure of avoiding genetically engineered Canola, buy ORGANIC Canola oil.

The FDA Bribe Slur

Q: "Canada paid the FDA the sum of $50 million to have rape seed registered and recognized as safe."

A: Rubbish! Do you really believe that? If the FDA could be bribed for as little as $50 million, then morphine would be an over-the-counter medicine!

No. GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status is sought for all commonly used new foods -- tuna oil is a recent example. GRAS  status is only granted following the submission of a lengthy petition, which details years of painstaking research on the health effects of the food in question. Canola oil passed with flying colors. END OF STORY!

The Lubricating Oil Slur

Q: "Rapeseed is a lubricating oil used by small industry. It has never been meant for human consumption."

A: Corn, soybean, flax, olive and many other food oils are all used industrially to make lubricants, oils, fuel, soaps, paints, plastics, cosmetics, inks, etc. 

In fact, any organic hydrocarbon (including Canola) can be processed and denatured to make industrial chemicals. 

Proteins in milk can be used to make glue; wheat can be used to make ethanol, an ingredient in "gasohol." 

But because you can do this to a food doesn't make it somehow poisonous or harmful. The food forms of all these products are safe. Canola oil is even safer since it has the most healthy fatty acid profile of any commonly used oil.

The Mad Cow Slur

Q: "Now comes information that Canola Oil is the suspected causative agent for scrapie, a viral disease transmitted to cattle who were fed rendered sheep infected with scrapie. Both scrapie and mad cow disease destroy the brain's ability to function."

A: It is difficult to restrain one's contempt for such drivel. It is a blatant attempt to smear a good name by deceptive and false association with justified public health scandals like mad cow disease.

This unsupported assertion contains its own refutation! The "causative agents" of 'viral' diseases are VIRUSES - not innocent vegetable oil!

The Insecticide Slur

Q: "Canola is dangerous because it can kill insects like aphids." 

A: Yes, but so can ALL other oils including olive, corn, sunflower, peanut, etc. These oils kill aphids by SUFFOCATION, not by poisoning! Horticulturists actually RECOMMEND vegetable oils as a non-chemical, environment-friendly, insect control method.

In other words, Canola oil is only life-threatening if you try to drown yourself in it!

Moral: When confronted by such outrageous claims, be like Odysseus, strap yourself to the mast, ignore them and sail on. Meanwhile engage your brain to find the fallacies in the Siren song.

By the way: The rumor-debunking website  also found the Canola scare stories ‘False’. Check it here.


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