Over the last few years I’ve been seeing more and more of these bright yellow fields growing on farms in central North Carolina and with a little research found the crop to be Canola (CANadian Oil – Low Acid) / Rapeseed.
Rapeseed is a member of the mustard family which in its natural state contained a high percentage of erucic acid, a substance associated with heart lesions in laboratory animals and possibly other serious health related issues. However, today’s variety of Rapeseed or Canola, as its growers and supporters prefer to call it, is modified to reduce the percentage of erucic acid to acceptable human consumption standards receiving qualified health claim by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of low saturated-fat content reducing the risk of heart disease. It is one of the more inexpensive cooking oils currently available.
Some Canola is from strains developed to have naturally lower levels of the problematic chemicals. However, more then 60 percent of the canola crop in Canada (where most of it is grown) comes from genetically modified seed, making it illegal in Europe and opposed by activists throughout the world.
Being declared “safe” can be an illusion and is far different from the statement “according to our current information it doesn’t appear to cause any harm.” It’s not hard to imagine mankind for all its brilliance in modifying genes for benefits may be down-the-road unlocking some unforseen dire consequences. It would be a fitting reference for dying by the seeds of our own sowing, would it not?
Perhaps modified Canola/Rapeseed is safe, I am not educated nor informed enough to argue the point. I do know, standing by the fields, I was repulsed by the sickening sweet smell of the blooms and had to leave in order to not become physically ill.