Fact or Fiction? Canola oil is the same from GM and non-GM crops

FactFictonYou might be surprised to know that canola is a distinctly “Made in Canada” crop. It was developed by researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the University of Manitoba in the 1970s, using traditional plant breeding techniques. It is derived from rapeseed, an oilseed plant already used in ancient civilization as a fuel. Rapeseed is not fit for human consumption so Dr. Richard Downey and Dr. Baldur Stefannson, through breeding, lowered the erucic acid and glucosinolates thus creating a new plant — canola! The name canola is a contraction of Canadian and ola, meaning oil.

Did you know? Glucosinolates are what makes mustard spicy

Canola belongs to the Brassica genus, the botanical family that includes turnips, rutabaga, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard, and cauliflower. Brassica oilseed varieties are some of the oldest plants cultivated by humanity, with documentation of its use in India 4,000 years ago, and use in China and Japan 2,000 years ago.

While canola was developed using traditional plant breeding techniques, about 80% of the canola grown in Canada has now been modified using biotechnology to make it tolerant to certain herbicides. Using these specific herbicides has reduced the amount of chemical needed for weed control in the fields. Remember: the canola plant has been modified, not the oil, oo canola oil from the herbicide tolerant plant is exactly the same safe and healthy oil as canola oil from conventional plants. The modification has been made to only one canola gene, and it is a protein. Processing removes all proteins from canola oil. That means canola oil made from genetically modified seed is conventional canola oil.

Did you know? Herbicide tolerance also occurs as a traditionally bred trait in canola, wheat, and lentils

In Canada, the largest producer of genetically modified (GM) canola, GM crops are regulated by Health Canada, under the Food and Drugs Act, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are responsible for evaluating the safety and nutritional value of GM foods. Since the dawn of canola, approximately 20 years ago (over 3 trillion meals), there are no documented cases of harm correlated to human consumption of canola oil.

FACT: Canola oil from GM crops is the same as canola oil from conventional crops!

Sources: Canola Council of Canada, CropLife Canada, Health Canada, Wikipedia, and SaskCanola

July Faces of Farming Features Modern Homesteaders

By Matt McIntosh for Farm & Food Care Ontario

The farming lifestyle might not be for everyone, but for AmyBeth and Colin Brubacher, there’s nothing better. The Elmira, Ont., couple are turkey producers, and they see farming and family as their greatest passions.

“We absolutely love our lifestyle,” says AmyBeth. “It’s modern homesteading, living close to the land. There’s a lot of great things to learn.”

IMG_0236aBox2AmyBeth and Colin own and operate B & B Farms, where they raise turkeys for both large processors as well as for direct sale. They are an average sized turkey farm in Ontario, and also have 100 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat which they share crop with their cousin who has the neighbouring farm.

With three children –   Zoe (age 11), Stella (age 7) and Mercedes (age 2) – AmyBeth and Colin are the third-generation of Brubachers to run the farm. AmyBeth is also the face of July in the 2016 Faces of Farming Calendar.

As part of their direct turkey sales, the Brubachers supply both whole fresh birds for holiday seasons – around Thanksgiving , Christmas and Easter – as well as value-added products like ground meat and sausages. The family markets their turkeys and value-added products under the brand “Scotch Line Turkey Co.”

“We love working with animals and the satisfaction you get from raising healthy turkeys,” says Colin. “It’s very rewarding being able to produce healthy, great tasting food and just being a part of the agricultural community.”

Colin and AmyBeth took over the farm management from Colin’s parents nine years ago, but actually started building a succession plan over 16 years ago. To help things run smoothly, the couple work alongside Colin’s dad, Landis, and employ local part-time students to help them on evenings and weekends. The extra help is particularly valuable since Colin also works off the farm as an insurance broker.

B & B Farms is also a green energy producer. On one of the farm’s smaller outbuildings, the main turkey barn and their house they have three 10-kilowatt  micro-fit solar systems. The family also has a contract to build a larger, 100 kilowatt solar project on a new turkey barn, which they plan on constructing in the near future.

“We are all about green energy,” says Colin.

AmyBeth is the face of July in the 2016 Faces of Farming Calendar. Her page is sponsored by Turkey Farmers of Ontario.

AmyBeth is the face of July in the 2016 Faces of Farming Calendar. Her page is sponsored by Turkey Farmers of Ontario.

Previously to raising turkeys, Colin worked as an auto mechanic, however, he insists that he always wanted and planned to be a farmer. AmyBeth, on the other hand, did not initially plan on having a farm-centred life. She went to Wilfrid Laurier University for a degree in music, and York University for a degree in education. She then worked as a teacher for seven years before deciding to stay home in favour of having more time with her family.

“We started home schooling the kids a few years ago. We have a good opportunity to educate our children right here at home” says AmyBeth.

Outside of the farm business, both AmyBeth and Colin are involved in their local church through various committees and programs. The family also likes to travel when time permits, visiting relatives who live as far away as Newfoundland, British Columbia, and many places in between. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the love of food also features prominently in their leisure activities – both AmyBeth and Colin enjoy canning and preserving together, as well as sharing their backyard and turkey products with friends and family.

“It’s the family aspect of this business that makes it special to us,” Colin says.


The eleventh annual “Faces of Farming” calendar, 2016, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario, is designed to introduce the public to a few of Ontario’s passionate and hardworking farmers – the people who produce food in this province. See more at facesoffarming.ca.

Innovative collaboration drives greenhouse project

By Blair Andrews, Farm & Food Care

Greg Devries, president of Truly Green Farms, displays tomatoes-on-the-vine being grown in the company’s greenhouse in Chatham.

Greg Devries, a farmer from Chatham-Kent, is hoping to use innovation and a unique partnership to redefine the greenhouse vegetable industry. If successful, his efforts could also get people to think about tomatoes in a “greener” way.

Devries is the president of Truly Green Farms, a company that is gradually building a 90-acre greenhouse complex across the road from the GreenField Ethanol plant in Chatham.

In a first for North America, the greenhouse operation will be using carbon dioxide (CO2) and low-grade, waste heat from the ethanol plant to help grow the tomatoes. The concept is to take a greenhouse gas like CO2 that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere, and use it to produce a healthy food product. Continue reading

Good ideas have roots – talking about ethanol

Reprinted from The Real Dirt on Farming

Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from plants. Ethanol made an early debut as a renewable fuel back when Henry Ford designed the Model T. But gasoline outpaced it because it was easier to use in engines and the supply was cheap and plentiful. Today, ethanol is fast gaining on its old rival, as consumers want cleaner fuels for the environment and human health. Continue reading

Cattails may be a solution to greenhouse gas emissions

by Kelly Daynard
In Manitoba, cattails may provide a unique solution to displacing fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This past September, members of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation toured the Netley-Libau Nutrient-Bioenergy project north of Winnipeg. The project is documenting the ability of cattails to capture and store nutrients coming into the Lake Winnipeg Basin. The cattails are then harvested and turned into biomass for bioenergy.

Harvesting cattails

Dr. Hank Vennema, of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, explained that Lake Winnipeg is the tenth largest fresh water lake in the world. The last 60 years have resulted in a significant degradation to the Netley-Libau marsh area caused by drainage, dredging, flooding and other changes.

This has resulted in a significant loss of wetland habitat. The marsh, which is 250 square kilometers in size, is one of the largest freshwater coastal wetlands in North America. Continue reading

Bringing in the harvest – corn isn’t just found on the farm

By Jeanine Moyer

Its corn harvest time in Ontario. Combines are rolling through the fields and trucks are rumbling down the roads, taking the golden kernels to elevators for storage, feed mills for livestock feed, or directly to grain exporting facilities along the lakes to be shipped worldwide.

Harvesting Corn

Continue reading

A house made of soybeans – and other byproducts of farming

Reprinted from The Real Dirt on Farming

Most people think of farming for food. But the by-products of plants and animals are used far and wide.

The House that Soy built

Believe it or not – it’s possible to live in a house built from soy. Ok, so it’s not a house built from actual soybeans, but many soy-based products were used to construct and decorate a 1200 sq ft house displayed at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto in 2009. Everything from paints and varnishes, adhesives, household insulation, kitchen cabinets, carpet backing, bathroom fixtures, sofas, mattresses, bedding, clothing, food, candles, soaps, and cosmetics, featured soy.

Soy oil can be used as an environmentally-friendly, sustainable replacement to petroleum oil in many household products. After the show was over, the house became a Habitat for Humanity home.

Check out our list of weird stuff from the farm – as you can see, it’s in all aspects of our daily lives.

In the home: Bone china, Cellophane, Matches, Soy crayons, Violin, Printer ink cartridge, Glass cleaner, Soy candles
At work: Dynamite, Biodegradable plastics, Corn-based travel mug, Corn-based ruler, compostable bags
While driving: Performance tires, Spark plugs, Anti-freeze, Brake fluid, Armor-All wipes, Asphalt sealant, Lubricants and engine oils
In our diets: Gummy bears, Canadian Club whiskey, Licorice, Chewing gum
At the pharmacy: Intravenous solution, Wound dressings, Skin Conditioner, Eye drops, Gelatin pill casings
In the bathroom cabinet: Toothpaste, Cosmetics, Lip balm, Mouthwash, Hand sanitizer, Shaving cream, Shampoo
While we’re having fun: Paintballs, Fireworks, Sport equipment (Pig skin football)
For more info, see www.wheresagriculture.ca

What about Greenhouse Gas?

By Patricia Grotenhuis

Climate change – the term is widespread, and commonly used. It’s also common for people to talk about causes of climate change and contributors to greenhouse gases. Farms do contribute to greenhouse gas, but at the same time, they also reduce greenhouse gases. The following excerpt is from “The Real Dirt on Farming II”.

“What about greenhouse gas?

I’ve heard farming contributes to greenhouse gas. What are farmers doing about that? Yes, agriculture is part of the problem. But we are also an important part of the solution.
Scientists estimate agriculture produces 10 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Methane, coming largely from livestock, accounts for one-third of agriculture’s emissions and nitrous oxide, which accounts for most of the rest, comes from farm soils, especially those that have used manures and fertilizers. Continue reading