AskDefine | Define rapeseed

Dictionary Definition

rapeseed n : seed of rape plants; source of an edible oil

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

rapeseed
  1. the rape plant, Brassica napus, which produces a grain that is used widely for animal feed and vegetable oil
  2. the seed of such plant

Translations

rape plant
  • Czech: řepka
  • French: colza
  • German: Raps
  • Polish: rzepak

Extensive Definition

Rapeseed (Brassica napus), also known as rape, oilseed rape, rapa, 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, rāpum or rāpa, 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. 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)

Cultivation and uses

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. 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 2003-4 season, and 46 million tonnes in 2004-5. In Europe, rapeseed is primarily cultivated for animal feed (due to its very high lipid and medium protein content), and is a leading option for Europeans to avoid importation of GMO products. Natural rapeseed oil contains erucic acid, which is mildly toxic to humans in large doses but is used as a food additive in smaller doses. 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 low erucic acid rapeseed. Sometimes the "Canola-quality" label is applied to other varieties as well.
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 provides rapeseed animal meal as a by-product. The by-product is a high-protein animal feed, competitive with soya. 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. 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 , yóu cài, lit. "oil vegetable" in Chinese; yau choy in Cantonese; cải dầu in Vietnamese; and 菜の花, nanohana in Japanese) are sold as greens, primarily in Asian groceries, including those in California where it is known as yao choy or tender greens.
Rapeseed is a heavy nectar producer, 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.

Nutritional value

Canola oil (or rapeseed oil) contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 2:1 and is second only to flax oil in omega-3 fatty acid. 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. Some UK farmers (such as Hillfarm Oilshttp://www.hillfarmoils.com) & Farrington Oilshttp://www.farrington-oils.co.uk) have started to produce cold-pressed rapeseed oil as a cooking oil and dressing.

Biodiesel

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, due to the costs of growing, crushing, and refining rapeseed biodiesel, rapeseed derived biodiesel cost more to produce than standard diesel fuel. Prices of rapeseed oil are at very high levels presently (start November 05) due to increased demand on rapeseed oil for this purpose. Rapeseed oil is the preferred oil stock for biodiesel production in most of Europe, partly because rapeseed produces more oil per unit of land area as compared to other oil sources, such as soy beans.

Health effects

Rapeseed has been linked with adverse effects in asthma and hay fever sufferers. Some suggest that oilseed pollen increases breathing difficulties. But this is unlikely as rapeseed is an entomophilous crop, with pollen transfer primarily by insects. Others suggest that this is caused by the inhalation of oilseed rape dust, and that allergies to the pollen are relatively rare. It may also be that since rapeseed in flower has a distinctive and pungent smell, hay fever sufferers wrongly blame the rapeseed just because they can smell it. An alternative explanation may be that it is simply the sheer volume of rapeseed pollen in the air around farmland which triggers an allergic reaction in hayfever sufferers on inhalation, or following prolonged exposure to high levels.

Controversy

The Monsanto Company has genetically engineered new cultivars of rapeseed that are resistant to the effects of its herbicide Roundup. They have been vigorously prosecuting 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 illegal 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.

Production

Worldwide production of rapeseed (including canola) rose to 46.4 million metric tons in 2005, the highest recorded total (source: FAO).

Pests and diseases

Animal pests

Diseases

Genome sequencing and genetics

The 'A' genome component of the amphidiploid Rapeseed species B. napus is currently being sequenced by an international consortium.

References

External links

rapeseed in Bulgarian: Рапица
rapeseed in Catalan: Colza
rapeseed in Chuvash: Рапсă
rapeseed in Czech: Brukev řepka
rapeseed in Welsh: Rêp
rapeseed in Danish: Raps
rapeseed in German: Raps
rapeseed in Estonian: Raps
rapeseed in Spanish: Brassica napus
rapeseed in Esperanto: Kolzo
rapeseed in French: Colza
rapeseed in Galician: Colza
rapeseed in Indonesian: Brassica napus
rapeseed in Icelandic: Repja
rapeseed in Italian: Brassica napus
rapeseed in Hebrew: לפתית
rapeseed in Lithuanian: Rapsas
rapeseed in Hungarian: Repce
rapeseed in Dutch: Koolzaad
rapeseed in Japanese: アブラナ
rapeseed in Norwegian: Raps
rapeseed in Polish: Kapusta rzepak
rapeseed in Portuguese: Colza
rapeseed in Russian: Рапс
rapeseed in Slovak: Repka olejná
rapeseed in Slovenian: Oljna ogrščica
rapeseed in Finnish: Rapsi
rapeseed in Swedish: Raps
rapeseed in Turkish: Kanola
rapeseed in Ukrainian: Ріпак
rapeseed in Walloon: Golzå
rapeseed in Samogitian: Rapsos
rapeseed in Chinese: 油菜
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