GENTECH archive


Re: B-GE: Rape/Canola: No literature, No testing--No allergies????

I would greatly appreciate it if people could call our attention to ONE 
peer-reviewed, independent scientific publication that demonstrates the 
safety of ANY genetically altered food.

Thank you,
Nina Moliver

In a message dated 4/29/1999 9:25:31 AM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

 Some of you may have read the GRAS petitions and areoallergen  
 information.  I have added some new questions in light of the 
 [mis]information that was recently given by Canola Council and 
 the Univ. of Nebraska.  I am outraged that an oil used in medical 
 procedures, as food and in cosmetics has never been documented 
 in food allergy literature. We've has 42 years!
 Thanks, Colleen [just another lab rat]
 While researching rapeseed/canola the last 13 months, I have
 found NO RESEARCH on food allergies for this oil. I have not found
 any study researching multiple oils that included rape/canola.
 No food allergy research on a product that is transgenic, a process
 that we repeatly hear is safe, with many safeguards. Where are the
 safeguards when the product hasn't been tested in the first place!
 I called, or had others call, 16 allergists and four labs in the U.S.
 and Canada after finding no states near me testing
 for the oil.  I researched in excellent medical and national libraries 
 and medical abstract websites so was surprised to see the following 
 email on the Canola Council of Canada[CCC] website in their discussion 
 group, nutrition section.[1] 
 March 02, 1999 Lisa Gruener, research coordinator, answered a parent 
 of a one-year old who had reactions after consuming canola: 
 "According to an extensive literature review on the allergenicity 
 of edible oils done by the University of Nebraska, canola oil is 
 considered to be non-allergenic.  Research has shown that refined 
 edible oils, which is the form in which oils are commonly available 
 to consumers, are non-allergenic, as they do not contain any traces 
 of protein" and "Cold-pressed oils, which are less commonly available 
 to consumers may contain trace amounts of protein, thus posing some 
 risk to food-allergic individuals. As I mentioned previously, to date 
 we have not seen any confirmed cases of an allergy to canola oil, 
 cold-pressed or refined."  
 March 17 I contacted Ms. Gruener to ask if an article in FOODTECHNOLOGY 
 by Hefle and Taylor, co-directors of Food Allergy Research and Resource 
 Program, University of Nebraska, was the article she had cited.[2]  
 She answered that it seemed to be the same article, without charts.  
 I also called Dr. Steven Taylor, listed in U.of Nebraska faculty 
 profile as Head, Food Science & Technology Dept. and one of the 
 review's authors.[3] I explained my situation and asked where he had 
 found the research articles showing canola/rapeseed to be nonallergenic. 
 Dr. Taylor answered that there was no canola allergy literature to 
 The Univ. of Nebraska literature review states "Some oil sources, such 
 as canola or olive are nonallergenic." and "While many of the oils 
 used in the studies described in this review are cold-pressed, virtually 
 all oils consumed in the United States made from allergenic sources are 
 solvent-extracted."  The authors reviewed studies of peanut, almond, 
 walnut, sunflower, both refined and coldpressed; soy, refined and crude; 
 hazelnut, mixed; macadamia, cold-pressed and pistachio, mixed. It stated 
 that cold-pressed or unrefined oils may contain "residual but detectable 
 amounts of protein." 
 1. The study should have read "There are no published canola food
 allergy studies to review." 
 2. FOODTECHNOLOGY is used by food processors as confirmation
 that canola is nonallergenic, NOT that research hasn't been done on it.
 3. Cold-pressed/expeller pressed canola may contain enough protein to 
 cause an allergic reaction.  The oil is commonly found in health 
 food stores where people are shopping for pesticide & gmo-free 
 food for ethical and health reasons. I have seen the same oils in
 conventional grocery stores "natural foods" sections.
 4. Taylor was one of 6 editors/authors of "Allergenicity of Foods 
 Produced by Genetic Modification." The report was an effort of 
 International Food Biotechnology Council and International Life 
 Science Institute [Allergy and Immunology Institute]. The science-based, 
 decision tree approach to assess the allergenic potentials of transgenic 
 foods is included in the report.[4]
 I have 7 full studies and 2 editorials on rapeseed as an 
 aeroallergen. The studies were from the U.K., Austria and 
 Spain, none in North America. I have abstracts of other
 European studies, but do not have the full studies to use.
 1. The earliest study I have, from  Scotland's Angus District, 
 was initiated after the Director of Enviromental Health, L.A. 
 Cameron, found himself reacting to rapeseed fields near his home, 
 with no prior hayfever problems.[5] 
 The Angus council kindly sent copies of their original work, letters 
 from people outside the test areas, study procedures and those 
 involved. Interestingly, Mr. Cameron commented in the paper that 
 the research community was very helpful, but was concerned with 
 government apathy where human health was concerned. In a newspaper 
 article he photocopied [no date, name] Dr. T. S. Callaghan, Stracathro 
 Hospital, said of Mrs. Edwina Currie, junior minister for health:
 "..Mrs. Currie is strictly correct in that her department 
 has no evidence [of asthma & allergy symptoms]." "But he added, 
 there is no evidence because it has not been looked at."
 2. A recent study by McEwan/Smith noted "the possible allergic/irritant 
 nature of OSR plants has been attributed to several 
 groups of particulates or chemical, pollen, fungal infections and 
 VOCs....  While the number of people affected by plant derived VOCs 
 has not been quantified, studies of similar chemicals have shown 
 that they can have toxic or allergic effects in other circumstances."[6]
 3. An editorial by C. McSharry, Glasgow, reported "It is important
 that sensitization among farmers is investigated since they are at the
 front line of contact with OSR." and "Canada is currently the largest
 exporter of rapeseed but there is little evidence of a problem. This
 could be due to the wide Canadian spaces dissipating the pollen and VOC, 
 or perhaps in common with other countries there may be a natural 
 reluctance to acknowledge even a trivial problem with such a valuable 
 commodity. McSharry called for a "coordinated, multi-disciplinary 
 approach, with respiratory physicians, clinical scientists and plant 
 4. An Austrian study found "...OSR sensitization was of a similar magnitude
 like allergy to ragweed and nettle, which are considered relevant 
 allergens in Austria...We therefore consider OSR should be included 
 in routine allergy screening series in countries with rape cultivation."[8]
 Where are the pollen/VOC studies for North America?
 Ms. Gruener of CCC commented in a personal email "The producers
 that I know that are allergic to canola flowers use an antihistamine 
 during the flowering season...." Is that in Canada? Are the surrounding
 areas warned of the VOC and pollen problems?
 James Maryanski Ph.D., FDA Strategic Manager for Biotechnology,  
 and Dean Metcalfe, NIAID/NIH, both confirmed to me recently that the 
 only way to test for transgenic foods is to obtain each individual 
 product and skin test.  There are no commercial extracts available. 
 Will insurance companies pay for multiple tests of a product? Can
 you imagine an allergist trying to isolate an allergic response
 if there are 20 different canola/rapeseed novel oils to test? This
 would seem to be a nightmare for the allergist, as well as the
 Rapeseed oil [hydrogenated, 40% erucic acid] was used in peanut 
 butter as early as 1961. A recent check of the grocery store shelves 
 showed rapeseed in all peanut butters but the "natural" products 
 without peanut oil removed. 
 Proctor & Gamble submitted a 1974 petition to the FDA requesting that 
 fully hydrogenated rapeseed oil and superglycerinated fully hydrogenated
 rapeseed oil be give GRAS [Generally Recognized As Safe] status.[9] 
 In the 1977 Federal Register: "The natural oil contains 
 a high percentage of long chain fatty acids, 40 percent of which is 
 unsaturated erucic acid.  Experimental studies with erucic acid in 
 rats have demonstrated that this unsaturated fatty acid is readily 
 absorbed, accumulated in the heart and liver, and is the substance 
 in rapeseed oil which is responsible for the observed fatty 
 infiltration and degeneration of heart muscle. The hydrogenation 
 converts the erucic acid to the saturated behenic acid which is 
 poorly absorbed. As a result, the feeding of fully hydrogenated 
 rapeseed oil and superglycerinated fully hydrogenated rapeseed oil 
 to rats did not produce the aforementioned lipid accumulation and 
 effects on the heart muscle."[10]
 This final rule also stated that superglycerinated fully hydrogenated 
 rapeseed oil "has been used since 1957 in cake mix formulations 
 as an emulsifier in shortening at a maximum concentration of 4 
 percent of the shortening or at 0.5 percent of the total weight 
 of cake mix." 
 In 1982 Agriculture Canada filed to get LEAR [low erucic acid rapeseed 
 oil] GRAS status in the U.S.[11] It could have up to 2% erucic acid
 content. The final ruling was made in 1985. "FDA has found that 
 LEAR oil does not produce the adverse effects produced by rapeseed oils 
 containing higher levels of erucic acid, and that there are no 
 significant differences in toxicity between LEAR oils and other 
 vegetable oils."[12] Dec. 19, 1988 Canola oil was recognized as an 
 interchangeable name with low erucic acid rapeseed oil [LEAR].[13]
 Peanut allergies are rising in the U.S.--including anaphylaxis. 
 Why has rapeseed been used in peanut butter for the 
 last 42 years without allergy tests? The oil can replace up to 
 2% of the product. I have seen peanuts cooked in vegetable
 oil, which could be canola, since it isn't always labelled
 as such.
 NOTE: Erucic acid is still being debated. 
 Canola is also used in cosmetics and as an anticoagulant [according to 
 CCC. From APHIS, USDA website: Traditional and other uses have been 
 for lamp oils, soap making, high-temperature and tenacious high-erucic 
 acid lubricating oils, and plastics manufacturing.[14} The 1998 Canola 
 convention proceedings estimated that "each product could generate 
 20,000 to 50,000 acres of demand and there could be as many as 20 
 different varieties in the marketplace in the coming years." [15}
 [2] Hefle & Taylor, "The Allergenicity of Edible Oils, FOODTECHNOLOGY
     Feb. 1999; 53:2, 62-70.
 [3]   Dr. Taylor's
     research interests are "development of immunochemical methods for the 
     detection of allergens, proteins, and toxin; the assessment of the 
     allergenicity of genetically-engineered foods; the effect of food 
     processing on food allergens; and the evaluation of the safety of 
     foodborne chemical, both natually-occurring and additive."
 [4} Critical Review of Food Science and Nutrition 1996; 36 Suppl.
     International Food Biotechnology Council; w/ILSI Allergy and Immun. 
     Institute. Editors: Dean Metcalfe [NIH & Int'l Life Science Inst; 
     Allergy and Immunology Institute]; Roy L. Fuchs [Monsanto];James D. 
     Astwood [Monsanto]; Rod Townsend [Pioneer Hi-Bred International] and 
     Hugh A. Sampson [John Hopkins Univ.; Steve L. Taylor[Univ.of Neb.]
     Joseph R.  Fordham.
 [5] Study, Angus District Council; 14 Sept. 1989 Scotland
 [6] McEwan,M., MacFarlane Smith, W.H.Identification of volatile organic
     compounds emitted in the field by oilseed rape (Brassica napus ssp. 
     oleifera) over the growing season. Clin Exp Allergy 1998, 28: 
 [7] McSharry, C., Oilseed rape sensitivity, Clin Exp Allergy 1997; 
 [8] Hemmer W. et al, Oilseed rape pollen is a potentially relevant 
     allergen.  Clin Exp Allergy, 1997 Feb, 27:2, 156-61.
 [9] Federal Register, Feb. 14, 1974 (39 FR 5674)
 [10]Federal Register, Sept. 23, 1977(42 FR 48335) Docket # 77G-0100.
 [11]Federal Register, 1982
 [12]Federal Register, Jan. 28, 1985 (50 FR 3745) Docket # 82G-0207
 [13]Federal Register, Dec. 29, 1988 953 FR 52681) Dockets # 82G-0207; 
     #86P-0506, and #87P-0199]
 [13] U.S. Biotechnology