Canola Quick Bytes

A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest


Capitol Hill

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee released on June 23 a proposed national biotech labeling law, which would pre-empt state labeling laws like the one in Vermont, effective immediately upon signature into law. It sets three mandatory labeling options for medium and large food manufacturers regarding more food information and provides additional options for small food manufacturers. The law also defines biotechnology in a way that excludes the broad range of new breeding techniques. This law will not be passed before the Vermont law goes into effect on July 1, but it will be considered next month.

On May 27, the United States Environmental Protection Agency released the proposed rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements, calling for 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel in 2018. As a point of reference, the biomass-based diesel requirements for 2016 and 2017 are 1.9 billion and 2 billion gallons, respectively. Biomass-based diesel use in the U.S. was about 2.1 billion gallons in 2015 and is expected to exceed that amount in 2016, which means it is already at levels the agency is proposing for 2018.

Agronomy

Biotech crops are safe for human and animal consumption and have not increased risk of any medical condition, including cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal illnesses or allergies, according to a May 17 report by the National Academy of Sciences. Moreover, there is no difference between traditional and biotech crops in terms of risks to human health, nor negative effects on the environment from biotech crops. This two-year study was conducted by more than 50 experts who reviewed over 900 studies on biotech crops from the past 20 years.

More than 100 Nobel laureates signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to biotech crops, the Washington Post reported. The activist group has been blocking a biotech rice that supporters say could reduce vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world. The letter campaign was organized by Richard Roberts, chief scientific officer of New England Biolabs and, with Phillip Sharp, the winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery of genetic sequences known as introns. The campaign’s website, supportprecisionagriculture.org, includes a running list of signatories.

Three professors in Canada completed a review for the journal Global Food Security regarding the impact of biotech crops in Canada and across the world. Their conclusion was that the adoption of these crops has resulted in both economic and environmental benefits. In fact, the researchers estimate that canola in Canada, the country’s largest biotech crop, produces an annual economic boon of $350-$400 million. Additionally, the environment benefits from reductions in usage of crop protection products, fossil energy, soil tillage, erosion and greenhouse gas emissions.

Nutrition

Looking for a cooking oil that can help reduce your risk of heart disease? Then look no further than canola oil. After all, it contains just 7 percent saturated fat as well as significant amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. On top of that, you can count on canola oil to deliver vitamins E and K for skin and anti-aging benefits. But that’s just the beginning! According to WebMD, there are (at least) five compelling reasons to make the switch to canola oil.

Canola oil’s role in preventing and reducing chronic inflammation is yet another reason to regularly incorporate the oil into your diet, said Jennifer Dalton, director of the didactic program in dietetics at the University of Dayton. That’s because, while saturated fats are known to promote chronic inflammation, sources of monounsaturated fat like canola oil have been shown to do the opposite.

Other Country News

Australian agribusiness GrainCorp is recommending that makers of infant milk powder use fewer imported oils in their baby formulas for better nutrition. According to an investigation by Weekly Times, imported oils — including palm, soy and coconut — may make up to 25 percent of the total ingredients in some infant formulas. GrainCorp is asking formula manufacturers to replace these oils with locally grown canola. The company is upgrading one of its sites in order to increase its capacity to produce more canola oil.

Farmers in Canada can now subscribe to an online system that forecasts insect threats, monitors insect populations and provides advice on how to respond. The Prairie Pest Monitoring Network (PPMN) — funded by the Western Grain Research Foundation — is designed to give farmers updates and warnings throughout the year and across the entire crop growing region. Between January and March, that means risk and forecast maps. From May to August, the site shares weekly updates to help farmers fight pest problems. For canola farmers, the PPMN also provides a seasonal scouting chart with links showing which pests to watch out for.

There’s a new app designed to protect pollinators by encouraging communication between beekeepers, sprayer operators and farmers. Known as BeeConnected, the free app enables sharing of information about the location of beehives as well as crop protection product applications. Farmers can record when and where they are spraying and beekeepers can react by moving their hives. Developed by CropLife Canada and the Canadian Honey Council, BeeConnected’s information can be accessed through a web browser, iPhone or Android device.

Latest Industry News

Nearly 60 people from locations in Washington joined representatives from Washington State University (WSU) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a canola oil production tour in Pomeroy, Wash. During the event, tour speaker Steve Starr of Pacific Coast Canola referred to the canola oil market as “looking bullish at this point,” thanks in part to local and world demand.

Interest in canola as a rotational crop in the cereal-dominated cropping systems of the Pacific Northwest continues to increase, particularly with depressed wheat prices, noted Karen Sowers of WSU. Steady demand is also coming from the Pacific Coast Canola processing facility in Warden, Wash. However, the crucifer quarantine enacted last fall has prompted many questions and requests for advice about blackleg from growers and the industry. In response, WSU faculty developed a handout for distribution.

Monsanto Company and Nomad Bioscience announced a licensing agreement whereby Monsanto has rights to apply Nomad’s proprietary technology to its genome-editing projects aimed at crop improvement. The licensed technology enables more efficient development of edited traits and may be applied across a broad range of genome-editing technologies and project types. Monsanto also entered into a global agreement with Sumitomo Chemical Company that will focus on developing new weed control solutions.

About the USCA

On June 20-21, the U.S. Canola Association, along with the Canadian Canola Growers Association, participated in the 19th International Oilseed Producers Dialogue in Berlin, Germany. Oilseed producer groups representing primarily canola/rapeseed, soybean and sunflower from 10 countries gathered to share national updates and discuss topics of mutual interest. Topics included trade negotiations (i.e., TTIP), market access issues (bans on neonics, proposed ban on glyphosate in Europe, Global Low Level Presence Initiative), biotech crop acceptance and food labeling, food security and biodiesel production. The meeting culminated in a final resolution about promoting a sound global business environment and producing oilseeds sustainably.