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High-Tech Soybean From “Back-to-Basics” Breeding / March 27, 2000 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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High-Tech Soybean From “Back-to-Basics” Breeding

By Judy McBride
March 27, 2000

Growers now have the option of planting a non-transgenically modified soybean called Soyola that yields oil that doesn’t need to be hydrogenated to improve its usefulness for cooking and extend its shelf life. That’s good news because hydrogenation produces the bulk of dietary trans fats now recognized as unhealthy for the heart.

Soyola’s secret: It’s the first non-GMO soybean for the southern U.S. with reduced linolenic acid. This polyunsaturated fatty acid degrades easily and causes “off” or rancid flavors in soybean oil, especially after extended heating. So most soybean oil is now hydrogenated to stabilize it for cooking and extend its usefulness, as well as to harden it for baking and margarine.

Just released by the Agricultural Research Service, Soyola would be ideal for frying and salad oil markets. Its oil has half the linolenic acid found in commercial varieties, according to developer Joseph W. Burton at the ARS Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Research Unit in Raleigh, N.C.

The plants yielded as well as or better than the commercial cultivars Brim and Dillon during two years of tests at 10 locations. Soyola is suited for North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, southern Missouri, northern Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. Seed will be available from N.C. Foundation Seeds, 8220 Riley Hill Road, Zebulon, NC 27597.

Soyola is the first release under the Better Bean Initiative (BBI) launched in 1998 by the United Soybean Board to provide alternatives to GMOs. It will help keep market options open and enhance competitiveness of U.S. soybeans in world trade, according to Richard F. Wilson, research leader at the Raleigh lab and a BBI coordinator. The initiative includes 22 scientists working in 11 public soybean-breeding programs.

Future plans include developing non-GMO soybeans with reduced levels of both linolenic acid and palmitic acid, a saturated fat, and increased levels of heart-healthy oleic acid, the fatty acid abundant in olive and canola oils.

ARS is the chief scientific agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Joseph W. Burton, Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Research Unit, Raleigh, NC; phone (919) 515-2734; fax (919) 856-4598;

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