Seed World

SOYLEIC®: Non-GMO, High Oleic Soy Opens Doors for Farmers

Kyle Durham, a farmer from Norborne and chairman of the Missouri

U.S. soybean farmers could receive an added boost – through premiums, diversification, and demand – as access to a high oleic, non-GMO soybean trait technology increases. SOYLEIC®, which was developed through farmer-funded research over the last decade, is beginning to penetrate the marketplace and giving more farmers the ability to help meet consumer demand for healthful oil and food products.

Farmers who grow this new technology can see benefits in a multitude of ways. SOYLEIC® can offer potential premiums, diversification of soybean acres, and high end-user demand. Grown through identity-preserved systems, SOYLEIC® enables full traceability from farm to fork and meets the increasing consumer demand for transparency. 

“Planting SOYLEIC® soybeans is a prudent decision for operations of all shapes and sizes,” said Kyle Durham, a farmer from Norborne and chairman of the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC). “It improves the bottom line through value-added markets and increases diversity without significant capital expenditures of a new venture.”

High oleic soybean oil boasts many benefits when compared to conventional oils and brings many attractive traits to the table. Heart-healthy with an improved fat profile, high oleic soybean oil has increased functionality, a longer shelf life, and an extended fry life – all without partial hydrogenation. It is also an excellent option for traditional soyfoods and ingredients, such as full-fat soy flour.

“The future for SOYLEIC® is extremely promising since it’s delivering on both an improved oil functionality and fatty acid profile that aligns to existing industry standards expected for a high oleic soybean oil while also coming from a non-GM/native trait background that certain market sectors, both here in the U.S. and globally, are desiring,” David Tegeder, formerly with Corteva Agrisciences, said. “This combined with solid agronomic seed varieties means more income per acre for soybean growers and an increased value proposition for the entire soybean supply chain.”

The soybean breeding team at the University of Missouri originally discovered a unique trait in a field of high oleic soybeans in the late 2000s which led to the creation of SOYLEIC®. The resulting patents were licensed to the MSMC. Since SOYLEIC® was not created through gene editing or genetic engineering, it is a non-GMO option for high oleic soybeans. While most scientists agree that GMOs are safe for food use and consumption, consumers want to have choices when making food decisions.

Test plots demonstrating the potential of high oleic soybeans have been planted across the Midwest since 2017, and the trait technology continues to be part of soybean research in Missouri. Led by MSMC and funded through the soy checkoff, several land grant universities and private organizations are working to expand the trait to several soybean maturity groups.

Missouri soybean farmers recently announced an updated license agreement with Benson Hill®, a food tech company unlocking the natural genetic diversity of plants with CropOS™, its cutting-edge food innovation engine. This agreement is aimed at moving SOYLEIC® further into the marketplace.

“Bringing new soybean varieties and market opportunities to growers is central to what we do investing their soybean checkoff dollars,” said Durham. “Partnerships are key to bringing growers the best returns, and we’re proud to be taking this step forward in empowering farmers to improve their bottom line with value-added soybean varieties and markets.”

Farmers interested in purchasing soybean varieties with the high oleic trait technology from the program will be able to recognize those seed beans through patent numbers and logos. Commercial seed will be marked with patent numbers 9,035,129; 9,198,365; 10,329,576; and/or 10,087,454 and the SOYLEIC® logo. Proceeds from the sale of soybean varieties developed through the research program are reinvested into soybean research and growing demand and preference for Missouri farmers’ soybeans, and for soy around the world.

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