Canola: a Canadian innovation we can all be proud of.

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.


Canola is a Canadian invention that has come a long way since its introduction over four decades ago. In the late 1950s, Canadian scientists, Dr. Baldur Stefansson and Dr. Keith Downey, began using traditional plant breeding to eliminate the undesirable components of rapeseed and create one of the world’s healthiest culinary oils. The new plant was named canola, a contraction of “Canadian” and “ola” meaning oil. Now, it’s our country’s most valuable crop, contributing $19.3 billion each year to the Canadian economy.

The first canola variety was released in 1974 and the spirit of pioneering and innovation that began with Stefansson and Downey lives on. The industry has made continued investment in innovative varieties and management techniques that are benefiting farm profitability, environmental sustainability and consumers’ health. Canada now benefits from the economic activity created by canola and Canadians now enjoy canola oil known for its heart-healthy properties; with the least saturated fat of all culinary oils.

Today, 90% of canola produced in Canada is exported as seed, oil and meal to more than 55 markets around the world. Increased global demand for canola allows for continued improvements, such as those awarded by biotechnology, to accelerate the growth of the crop’s  production and ensure that Canada leads the world in canola innovation.

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Canola Council of Canada

The Canola Council is the first industry association in Canada to encompass all links in the value chain. Together, we are building on the strengths of canola, Canada's greatest agricultural success story.