Soybeans are the source of the 61% of the vegetable oil consumed in the US. (SoyConnection) That makes sense, because the oil is in some ways a byproduct of animal feed: “a 60-pound bushel will yield about 11 pounds of crude soybean oil and 47 pounds of soybean meal.” (NC Soybean Producers) Still, soybean oil has some benefits of its own that justify its prevalence. Soybean oil is “low in saturated fat, contains no trans fat, and is high in poly- and monounsaturated fats. It’s also the principal source of omega-3 fatty acids in the U.S. diet, and the primary commercial source of vitamin E.” (SoyConnection)
Despite soybean oil’s benefits, there’s room for improvement. One of the biggest issues with soy oil is that it can turn rancid if it doesn’t undergo a process called hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil has a long shelf life, but contains trans fats, which have been linked to health problems. The November 2013 FDA call to phase out transfats had soybean farmers worried. Even the United Soybean Board recognizes that this is a big issue. So how can we reap the benefits of this high-yielding and healthful bean, but without negative health aspects?
Engineering a better bean is one way around the trans fat problem. DuPont Pioneer’s Plenish® soybean produces oil with “0g trans fat and the highest amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (oleic acid) available in soybeans under commercial development, 20% less saturated fat than commodity soybean oil and 75% less than palm oil, [and linoleic acid] content of less than 3% for increased oil stability. (Pioneer Hi-Bred)
What do you want to know about Plenish® Soybeans?
The Biofortified Blog has arranged an interview with Ms. Susan Knowlton, a Senior Research Manager with DuPont and the lead of the DuPont Healthy Oils team (see her bio below). We’re excited to bring our readers an opportunity to ask questions of this experienced scientist. Please comment with your questions, which I will compile and send to Ms. Knowlton in about a week.
Susan is a Senior Research Manager with DuPont, and a founding member and technical lead of the DuPont Healthy Oils venture team. She has more than 25 years experience in the field of Agricultural Biotechnology. Susan has over 20 published articles in scientific journals and is an inventor on five patents.
For the past 20 years, Susan has managed various research functions within the soy quality traits group, which seeks to tailor crop compositions to improve the nutrition and functionality of food ingredients for consumer and food manufacturers.
Susan is responsible for the commercial introduction of Plenish® high oleic soybeans. These soybeans produce oil with exceptional stability and improved nutrition suitable for food service and food manufacture applications in which partially hydrogenated oils were traditionally used. These soybeans can also provide a sustainable, domestically-produced alternative to petroleum-based feedstocks for product formulation. Plenish® is the first soy-based biotech product with direct consumer benefits.