Brassica napus

Brassica napus
Rapeseed (Brassica napus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: B. napus
Binomial name
Brassica napus

Rapeseed (Brassica napus), also known as rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rappi, rapaseed (and in the case of one particular group of cultivars, canola) is a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family). The name derives from the Latin for turnip, rāpa or rāpum, and is first recorded in English at the end of the 14th century. Older writers usually distinguished the turnip and rape by the adjectives round and long(-rooted) respectively.[2] See also Brassica napobrassica, which may be considered a variety of Brassica napus. Some botanists include the closely related Brassica campestris within B. napus. (See Triangle of U). Rapeseed was the third leading source of vegetable oil in the world in 2000.


Cultivation and uses

In agriculture, canola is the name given to certain varieties of rapeseed oil, or the oil produced from those varieties. Canola is a trademark for a hybrid variety of rape initially bred in Canada. Rapeseed oil was produced in the 19th century as a source of a lubricant for steam engines. It was less useful as food for animals or humans because it has a bitter taste due to high levels of glucosinolates. Canola has been bred to reduce the amount of glucosinolates, yielding a more palatable oil. This has had the side-effect that the oil contains much less erucic acid.

Rapeseed is grown for the production of animal feed, vegetable oil for human consumption, and biodiesel; leading producers include the European Union, Canada, the United States, Australia, China and India. In India, it is grown on 13% of cropped land.[citation needed] According to the United States Department of Agriculture, rapeseed was the third leading source of vegetable oil in the world in 2000, after soybean and oil palm, and also the world's second leading source of protein meal, although only one-fifth of the production of the leading soybean meal.

World production is growing rapidly, with FAO reporting that 36 million tonnes of rapeseed was produced in the 2003-2004 season, and estimates of 58.4 million tonnes in the 2010-2011 season.[3] In Europe, rapeseed is primarily cultivated for animal feed,[citation needed] owing to its very high lipid and medium protein content,[citation needed] and is a leading option for Europeans to avoid importation of genetically modified organism (GMO) products.[citation needed]

Canola seeds

Natural rapeseed oil contains 50% erucic acid. Wild type seeds also contain high levels of glucosinolates (mustard oil glucosindes), chemical compounds that significantly lowered the nutritional value of rape seed press cakes for animal feed. Canola, originally a syncopated form of the abbreviation "Can.O., L-A." (Canadian Oilseed, Low-Acid) that was used by the Manitoba government to label the seed during its experimental stages, is now a tradename for "double low" (low erucic acid and low glucosinolate) rapeseed. Sometimes the "Canola-quality" label is affixed to other varieties as well.[4]

The rapeseed is the valuable, harvested component of the crop. The crop is also grown as a winter-cover crop. It provides good coverage of the soil in winter, and limits nitrogen run-off. The plant is ploughed back in the soil or used as bedding. On some ecological or organic operations, livestock such as sheep or cattle are allowed to graze on the plants.

Processing of rapeseed for oil production produces rapeseed meal as a by-product. The by-product is a high-protein animal feed, competitive with soya.[citation needed] The feed is mostly employed for cattle feeding, but also for pigs and chickens (though less valuable for these). The meal has a very low content of the glucosinolates responsible for metabolism disruption in cattle and pigs.[5]

Rapeseed "oil cake" is also used as a fertilizer in China, and may be used for ornamentals, such as Bonsai, as well.

Rapeseed leaves and stems are also edible, similar to those of the related bok choy or kale. Some varieties of rapeseed (called 油菜, yóu cài, lit. "oil vegetable" in Chinese; yau choy in Cantonese; cải dầu in Vietnamese; phak kat kan khao [ผักกาดก้านขาว] in Thai; and nanohana [菜の花]/nabana [菜花] in Japanese) are sold as greens, primarily in Asian groceries, including those in California where it is known as yao choy or tender greens. They are eaten as sag (spinach) in Indian and Nepalese cuisine, usually stir-fried with salt, garlic and spices.

Rapeseed produces great amounts of nectar, and honeybees produce a light colored, but peppery honey from it. It must be extracted immediately after processing is finished, as it will quickly granulate in the honeycomb and will be impossible to extract. The honey is usually blended with milder honeys, if used for table use or sold as bakery grade. Rapeseed growers contract with beekeepers for the pollination of the crop.

"Total loss" chain and bar oil for chainsaws have been developed which are typically 70% or more canola/rapeseed oil. These lubricants are claimed to be less harmful to the environment and less hazardous to users than traditional mineral oil products,[6] although they are currently typically 2-5 times more expensive, leading some to use inexpensive cooking oil instead. Some countries, such as Austria, have banned the use of petroleum-based chainsaw oil.[7] These "bio-lubricants" are generally reported to be functionally comparable to traditional mineral oil products with some reports claiming one or other is superior,[7] but with no overall consensus yet evident.


Field of rapeseed flowers

Rapeseed oil is used in the manufacture of biodiesel for powering motor vehicles. Biodiesel may be used in pure form in newer engines without engine damage and is frequently combined with fossil-fuel diesel in ratios varying from 2% to 20% biodiesel. Formerly, owing to the costs of growing, crushing, and refining rapeseed biodiesel, rapeseed derived biodiesel cost more to produce than standard diesel fuel. Rapeseed oil is the preferred oil stock for biodiesel production in most of Europe, accounting for about 80% of the feedstock,[8] partly because rapeseed produces more oil per unit of land area compared to other oil sources, such as soy beans. The majority of European cars and trucks run on diesel fuel and an estimated 66% of total rapeseed oil supply in the European Union is expected to be used for biodiesel production in the 2010-2011 year.[8]

Rapeseed is currently grown with a high level of nitrogen-containing fertilisers, and the manufacture of these generates N2O, a potent greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of CO2. It has been estimated that 3-5% of nitrogen provided as fertilizer for rapeseed is converted to N2O.[9]

Health effects

Food-grade canola oil is generally recognized as safe by the United States Food and Drug Administration.[10]

Rapeseed oil contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 2:1, although flax oil is higher in omega-3 fatty acid, as are other oils such as chia (Salvia hispanica) oil. Canola oil's proponents claim that it is one of the most heart-healthy oils and has been reported to reduce cholesterol levels, lower serum tryglyceride levels, and keep platelets from sticking together. While only very long chain omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve cholesterol levels, and these are absent from most plant foods, the body can convert some of the short chain into long chain omega 3's.

Rapeseed oil can contain up to 45% erucic acid, a known toxin.[11] Food grade rapeseed oil (also known as canola oil, rapeseed 00 oil, low erucic acid rapeseed oil, LEAR oil, and rapeseed canola-equivalent oil) is limited by government regulation to a maximum of 2% erucic acid by weight in the USA[10] and 5% in the EU,[12] with special regulations for infant food. These low levels of erucic acid are not believed to cause harm in humans.[10][12]

In 1981 there was a deadly outbreak of disease in Spain, known as toxic oil syndrome,[13] which has been attributed to the consumption of rapeseed oil for industrial use that was fraudulently sold as cooking oil.

Rapeseed flowers

Rapeseed pollen contains known allergens.[14][15] Whether rape pollen causes hay fever has not been well established because rape is an insect pollinated (entomophilous) crop, whereas hay fever is usually caused by wind pollinated plants. It has been suggested that the inhalation of oilseed rape dust may cause asthma in agricultural workers.[16]


Worldwide production of rapeseed (including canola) has increased sixfold between 1975 and 2007. The production of canola and rapeseed 00 since 1975 has opened up the edible oil market for rapeseed oil. Since 2002 production of biodiesel has been steadily increasing in EU and USA to 6 million metric tons in 2006. Rapeseed oil is positioned to supply a good portion of the vegetable oils needed to produce that diesel. World production is thus expected to trend further upward over between 2005 and 2015 as biodiesel content requirements in Europe go into effect.[17] Every ton of rapeseed yields about 400kg of oil.

Top rapeseed producers
(million metric ton)
Country 1965 1975 1985 1995 2000 2005 2007 2009
 China 1.1 1.5 5.6 9.8 11.3 13.0 10.5 13.5
 Canada 0.5 1.8 3.5 6.4 7.2 9.4 9.6 11.8
 India 1.5 2.3 3.1 5.8 5.8 7.6 7.4 7.2
 Germany 0.3 0.6 1.2 3.1 3.6 5.0 5.3 6.3
 France 0.3 0.5 1.4 2.8 3.5 4.5 4.7 5.6
 Poland 0.5 0.7 1.1 1.4 1.0 1.4 2.1 2.5
 United Kingdom <0.007 0.06 0.9 1.2 1.2 1.9 2.1 2.0
 Australia <0.007 <0.06 0.1 0.6 1.8 1.4 1.1 1.9
 Ukraine <0.007 <0.06 <0.03 <0.1 0.1 0.3 1.0 1.9
 Czech Republic 0.07 0.1 0.3 0.7 0.8 0.7 1.0 1.1
 United States <0.007 <0.06 <0.03 0.2 0.9 0.7 0.7 0.7
 Russia N/A N/A N/A 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.6 0.7
 Denmark 0.05 0.1 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.6 0.6
 Belarus N/A N/A N/A 0.03 0.07 0.1 0.2 0.6
 Hungary 0.008 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.5 0.6
 Romania 0.01 0.02 0.04 0.04 0.1 0.1 0.4 0.6
World Total 5.2 8.8 19.2 34.2 39.5 46.4 50.5 61.6
UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

Pests and diseases

Animal pests


Genome sequencing and genetics

Bayer Cropscience (in collaboration with BGI-Shenzhen, China, Keygene N.V., the Netherlands and the University of Queensland, Australia) announced it had sequenced the entire genome of Brassica napus and its constituent genomes present in Brassica rapa and Brassica oleracea in 2009. The "A" genome component of the amphidiploid Rapeseed species B. napus is currently being sequenced by the Multinational Brassica Genome Project.[19][dated info]

GM controversy

The Monsanto Company has genetically engineered new cultivars of rapeseed that are resistant to the effects of its herbicide Roundup. They have sought compensation from farmers found to have the Roundup Ready gene in Canola in their fields without paying a license fee. These farmers have claimed the Roundup Ready gene was blown into their fields and crossed with unaltered Canola. Other farmers claim that after spraying Roundup in non-Canola fields to kill weeds before planting, Roundup Ready volunteers are left behind, causing extra expense to rid their fields of the weeds.

In a closely followed legal battle, the Supreme Court of Canada found in favor of Monsanto's patent infringement claim for unlicensed growing of Roundup Ready in its 2004 ruling on Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser. The case garnered international controversy as a court-sanctioned legitimation for the global patent protection of genetically modified crops. However, Schmeiser was not required to pay damages, as he did not benefit financially from the GMO crop in his field.[citation needed]

In March 2008, an out-of-court settlement between Monsanto and Schmeiser has an agreement for Monsanto to clean up the entire GMO-canola crop on Schmeiser's farm at a cost of $660.[20]

See also


  1. ^ "Brassica napus information from NPGS/GRIN". Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  2. ^ OED Online
  3. ^
  4. ^ Canola-quality Brassica juncea, a new oilseed crop for the Canadian prairies. DA Potts, GW Rakow, DR Males — New Horizons for an old crop. Proc 10th Intl Rapeseed Congr, Canberra, Australia, 1999
  5. ^ Soyatech LLC,, Soyatech is a company established in 1985 and publisher of the Soya and Oilseeds Blue Book
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 April 1, 2010,
  11. ^ Sahasrabudhe, M. R.. "Crismer values and erucic acid contents of rapeseed oils". Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 54 (8): 323–324. doi:10.1007/BF02672436. 
  12. ^ a b The Commission of the European Communities (1980). "Commission Directive 80/891/EEC of 25 July 1980 relating to the Community method of analysis for determining the erucic acid content in oils and fats intended to be used as such for human consumption and foodstuffs containing added oils or fats". EurLex Official Journal 254. 
  13. ^ "Spanish toxic oil syndrome" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  14. ^ Chardin H, Mayer C, Sénéchal H, Tepfer M, Desvaux FX, Peltre G (June 2001). "Characterization of high-molecular-mass allergens in oilseed rape pollen". International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 125 (2): 128–34. doi:10.1159/000053806. PMID 11435729. 
  15. ^ Chardin H, Mayer C, Sénéchal H, et al. (May 2003). "Polygalacturonase (pectinase), a new oilseed rape allergen". Allergy 58 (5): 407–11. doi:10.1034/j.1398-9995.2003.00094.x. PMID 12752327. 
  16. ^ Suh CH, Park HS, Nahm DH, Kim HY (September 1998). "Oilseed rape allergy presented as occupational asthma in the grain industry". Clinical and Experimental Allergy 28 (9): 1159–63. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2222.1998.00349.x. PMID 9761021. 
  17. ^ Canola, Growing Great 2016, The Canola Council of Canada, 2007, page 3, 10
  18. ^
  19. ^ "The website for the Multinational Brassica Genome Project". 
  20. ^ Hartley, Matt (2008-03-20). "Grain Farmer Claims Moral Victory in Seed Battle Against Monsanto". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2011-08-30. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Brassica napus — Brassica Bras si*ca, prop. n. [L., cabbage.] (Bot.) A genus of plants embracing several species and varieties differing much in appearance and qualities: such as the common cabbage ({Brassica oleracea}), broccoli, cauliflowers, etc.; the wild… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Brassica napus — Colza Colza …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Brassica napus — «Colza» redirige aquí. Para otras acepciones, véase Colza (desambiguación).   Colza …   Wikipedia Español

  • Brassica napus — Raps Raps (Brassica napus) Systematik Klasse: Dreifurchenpollen Zweikeimblättrige (Rosopsida) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Brassica napus — rapsas statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Bastutinių šeimos kultūrinės kilmės aliejinis, pašarinis augalas (Brassica napus). atitikmenys: lot. Brassica campestris f. annua; Brassica campestris f. biennis; Brassica campestris subsp. napus;… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • Brassica napus — La colza (Brassica napus) es un miembro de la familia de las Brassicaceae con flores de color amarillo brillante. También hay una variedad de interés agrícola conocida como canola. Se cultiva por todo el mundo para producir piensos animales,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Brassica napus — rapsas statusas T sritis augalininkystė apibrėžtis Medingas bastutinių (Brassicaceae) šeimos augalas. Auginami žieminiai ir vasariniai rapsai. Žieminių rapsų sėklose yra 40–50 %, o vasarinių rapsų – 30–40 % riebalų. Eruko rūgšties neturintis… …   Žemės ūkio augalų selekcijos ir sėklininkystės terminų žodynas

  • BRASSICA NAPUS L. - РАПС (ОЗИМЫЙ И ЯРОВОЙ), КОЛЬЗА — см. 346. < > Однолетнее растение. В. napus L. Рапс (озимый и яровой), Кольза Sp. pl. (1753) 666. Руков. по апроб. III (1938) 145, рис. Культ. фл. VII (1941) 68, рис. Синская (1960) 234. Венцлавович и др. (1963) 128. S y n. В. oleifera Moench.; В …   Справочник растений

  • Brassica napus var. napobrassica — Rutabaga Rutabaga …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Brassica napus ssp. oleifera — Raps Raps (Brassica napus) Systematik Klasse: Dreifurchenpollen Zweikeimblättrige (Rosopsida) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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