High oleic soybeans lauded to fill lost market

Senior Editor

(May 27, 2014) High oleic soybeans are all the buzz in the soybean industry these days.
They are being touted as a way for zero-transfat soybeans to recapture a market that the industry has lost to other oil seeds.
High oleic refers to the concentration of oleic acid in the beans.
Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid found naturally in many plant sources and animal products.
It is an omega-9 fatty acid, and as such is considered one of the healthier sources of fat in the diet.
Health experts often recommend using it in cooking, and a number of so-called health foods and diet products will use this compound in place of animal fats.
One of the chief sources of this acid in foods is olive oil. Canola and grapeseed oil also contain oleic acid. Many nuts and seeds contain the fat as well, and it can also also be found readily in most poultry, particularly chicken and turkey.
For many years, soybean researchers, both in industry and at land grant universities, have been breeding soybeans, intent upon finding, when pressed and processed, a variety containing what is considered an acceptable — and marketable — level of oleic acid.
Recently DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto introduced two such varieties to the marketplace — Plenish from DuPont Pioneer and Vistive Gold from Monsanto.
Plenish grabbed the headlines in the Mid-Atlantic when DuPont Pioneer and Perdue Farms formed a partnership in which Perdue is offering farmers a premium for growing Plenish. Perdue was hoping to enroll between 40,000 and 50,000 acres for Plenish production in this growing season,
The Pioneer brand soybean is touted as offering “”a healthier oil profile and increased oil stability. Plenish high oleic soybean oil has 0g trans fat, less saturated fat and the highest amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat available in soy.”.
A Pioneer spokesperson said Plenish beans will offer an oil of about 70 to 75 percent oleic.
Dr/ William Kenworthy, now retired soybean breeder for the University of Maryland, had attempted for several years to develop an oleic variety but it feel shot of his goals.
“I had developed breeding lines with oleic acid in the 50 to 54 percent range, but yield was not yet competitive, Kenworthy said.
“I was using traditional plant breeding procedures and soybean germplasm lines from the USA collection as parents in my breeding efforts. The new high oleic lines are much higher.”
Kenworth said his breeding program has been terminated, and the university does not intend to hire a plant breeder to work in this area.
However, he added, Virginia Tech has hired a new soybean breeder to continue Tech’s soybean variety development program. She is Dr. Bo Zhang and Kenworthy met with her earlier in the winter.
“I have sent her several of my breeding lines for her to evaluate this summer to see what she might want to continue, he said.
Indeed, Dr. Zhang is doing high oleic soybean breeding and development and plans to test some new breeding lines this year at multiple locations.
“Our VT lines last year did not have high enough oleic,” she reported.
Across the nation and the industry, high oleic is finding its way into fuel as well as food.
A motor oil with a high-oleic-soybean-oil base just took the next step toward commercialization. The oil, tested on more than one million miles in 100 Las Vegas taxicabs, delivered impressive results in tests by demonstrating the ability to extend the life of engines.
Biosynthetic Technologies, the company that developed this technology for the past five years, recently achieved certification from the American Petroleum Institute on a motor oil containing 35 percent of a synthetic ester, called an estolide, made from high oleic soybean oil.
This certification is expected to facilitate commercialization of the technology.
Farmers and other consumers may see this high-oleic-soybean-oil derived product in stores in as little as two years.
High oleic soybeans, currently grown in select areas of the United States, produce oil that delivers higher stability in high-heat situations. This characteristic makes this soybean oil more attractive to premium industrial users, such as motor-oil manufacturers. That could result in big demand for U.S. soybeans and added profitability for U.S. soybean farmers, according to the United Soybean Board.
The fast- food industry is also hailing the availability of the new oil.
Compared to regular soy oil which dominates the industry, the high oleic version is stable at room temperature for long periods and time and also can endure repeated bursts of heat — think deep fat cooking — without breaking down.
Of the two new varieties of high oleic, DuPont’s Plenish and Monsanto’s Roundup-ready Vistive Gold, both are made through the genetic modification technique called gene silencing.
Plenish boasts higher oleic acid levels, on par with olive oil at 75 percent. Vistive Gold is lower in saturated fat and also boasts lower levels of omega-6 fatty acid.