Rape of Canola

The Rape of Canola

(the history of the development of canola)

Once disdained as little more than a weed, rape has been transformed into canola, the darling of edible oils, and carried of to become the mistress of private interests. The freely moving "gossip" that accompanied her creation has been turned into trade secrets and patents.

Rape is an ancient oilseed member of the plant family of broccoli, radish and mustard. Canola is rape, transformed through selective breeding to produce what is currently considered the healthiest of edible oils.

Rape is always an excercise of power and control. The Rape of Canola is the story of the capture of the seed, the crop and its processing by large transnational corporations.

The Rape of Canola draws extensively on the memories of the people involved in this metamorphosis. Their stories of how decisions have been made, by whom and with what consequences, illustrate the transformation of science, technology and agriculture that is taking place around the world.

The Rape of Canola does not shrink from the hard questions this process raises. It asks: are the class structure and purposes of a capitalist society being replicatd through the seed? Who owns what we know ­ or can knowledge be owned at all? How can the political agenda of science and technology be discerned and directed in the public interest?

This book appears at first glance to be a knowledgeably and skilfully woven account of the development, research and marketing of canola, the triumphant metamorphosis of the humble rape seed. However, it is much more than this—it is a record of the interplay of human, political, commercial and social relationships that made the transformation of rape seed into canola possible. Thus the subject matter transcends the realm of Western Canadian agriculture and economics and becomes a case study of orchestrated intervention in the food system by means of targeted scientific research and development. The Rape of Canola is a significant Canadian text, taking the word text in its broadest connotation. (Dr. Ursula Franklin, FRSC, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto)

Published by NC Press, Toronto, 1992.

The Rape of Canola is out of print, but is available in many libraries. It may also be available at Abebooks.com.