Non-GM canola oil demand has crusher scrambling

Non-GM seed needed | Most canola grown 
in North America is genetically modified

A major canola crusher is calling for a retreat from the 17-year march toward genetically modified canola.

Pacific Coast Canola, a newly constructed processing plant in Warden, Washington, will take as much non-GM canola as it can find.

“The market for non-GMO canola in the west coast of the United States seems to have come on very quickly and very strong,” said Joel Horn, president of Legumex Walker Inc., which owns 85 percent of Pacific Coast Canola.

Demand for the specialty oil is driven by a push for GM labelling.

Whole Foods Market recently announced that all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores must be labelled by 2018 to indicate whether they contain genetically modified ingredients.

The company bills itself as the world’s leader in natural and organic foods, with more than 340 grocery stores in North America and the United Kingdom.

Plenty of companies on the U.S. west coast are taking similar steps, despite the failure of Proposition 37, an attempt to introduce mandatory GM labelling in California.

Elizabeth Sloan, president of Sloan Trends Inc., a California company that studies food trends, told delegates attending the Canola Council of Canada’s annual convention earlier this year that GM labelling is no longer just an idle threat.

“If there is anyone in this room who thinks that GMOs are not going to be an issue, I’m telling you you’re smoking dope,” she said.

Sloan recently attended the Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, California, where thousands of food retailers were showcasing their latest healthy food products.

“Nearly 90 percent of them had GMO-free on the label,” she said.

Sloan was surprised to hear senior Walmart officials say they will no longer oppose GM labelling.

Horn said the sudden demand for non-GM canola oil is strong, and customers are willing to pay a healthy premium.

Pacific Coast Canola has already taken its first delivery of non-GM canola seed and has contracted a small amount of this year’s acreage with growers in the western United States.

The problem is that little non-GM canola is grown in North America, which makes planting seed hard to find.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, 97.5 percent of the canola grown in Canada last year was GM.

“Everyone knows (acreage) is small, but we’re doing everything we can to make it significant,” said Horn.

“We’ll crush as much non-GMO as we can get our hands on right now because the demand for the oil is so high.”

He hopes seed producers will ramp up production this year so that there is ample supply of non-GM planting seed for the company’s 2014 contracting program.

Growers are excited about the crop because the premium they receive for growing it offsets the yield disadvantage compared to GM canola.

Horn said the Warden plant is ideally situated to meet the burgeoning demand for the specialty oil from the multibillion-dollar food processing industry in the Pacific Northwest.

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  • Bob Phelps

    No surprises here. GM canola in Australia is at most 8% of the national crop. GM seed has been selling at a discount for the past 2 seasons and still growers are baulking. Seed, chemical, segregation, transport and marketing costs are all higher with GM.

    And demand for non-GM canola, especially from Europe, is so strong that GM has been discounted by up to $60/tonne since 2007. The non-GM premium is reportedly around $40 now. The Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) reported last year that GM canola growers were losing $150/hectare compared with non-GM types. The most recent news here is that several West Australian growers report non-germination and mutations in the GM varieties.

    GM has stalled at 2 single-gene traits in 4 broad-acre crops. Most of the other promised traits, such as drought tolerance, will fail in GM crops as they depend on the interactions of various genes and these relationships cannot be cut and pasted.

    Millions attended the March Against Monsanto protests in 436 cities across 52 countries this weekend. Again this shows that most people don’t want to eat foods made using genetic manipulation techniques and are voting with their $s. It’s time to move on. Google the UN’s IAASTD report to read of a better way.

  • Tony Challes

    As any Canadian I do understand that a business must make money, however the turn to GM crops have gone unchecked (despite the studies throughout the world that have shown the early stage warning signs of consuming GM products). If the want for money leads the way of business and the prices for non GMO canola now shows better profit, (and if the GM labeling is pushed through) I truly hope we see a fast swing away from GMO. As any modern crop farmer knows, gaining knowledge of your crops, understanding the sustainability and liability of your decisions is key. Any farmers that have continued to grow and market the GM crops after understanding the effects on nature and humanity , in my opinion, should be as liable as the companies that engineered the seed. You may not see your day in court but judgement will be upon you, and I truly hope the punishments fit the crime! May there be mercy…

    • Shannon

      Totally right on the money! I’m with you all the way. For everyone who buys into the evil of the corporations. (Monsanto, Dow, Sergenta…etc, etc. Truly need to be held accountable. The farmers that are sewing these seeds can no longer claim ignorance. It is a purposeful act of crimes against humanity! Let the judgement begin!!!!

    • joann

      I agree we all need mercy. Lets all take the observation to heart that ANYone who has ever complained bout prices can and should consider themselves to be a partner in sharing responsibility for food degradation

  • Madeleine Love

    Surprising to read that non-GM canola in US/Canada has yield disadvantages because it doesn’t seem to be the case in Australia. Maybe the no-GM lines have been neglected.

    • Paul Overby

      I agree with you Madeleine, but let’s not tell everyone, OK, or our premium market may shrink!

  • Stephan Williams

    Madeline Lowe: “Surprising to read that non-GM canola in US/Canada has yield disadvantages because it doesn’t seem to be the case in Australia. Maybe the no-GM lines have been neglected.”

    Not only is it surprising to read that non-Gm canola in US/CANADA has yield disadvantages, it’s also NOT TRUE!

  • Joann

    I grew up in Saskatchewan and for years have been ashamed of the people there who caved to the quick bucks. Also shocked when they went into defense and denial mode as I tried to educate some of my friends and family. This is the perfect chance for the prairie folk to show what they are made of. Many will suffer hardship as they begin to turn the tide towards an almost super human cleaning project returning our beloved bread basket; but these people are the remnant of the dust bowl settlers and the metal they are made from can rise from the ashes. Join me in believing. It can be done.


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