Monsanto Commits $8.4 Million to Soy Quality Effort

QUALISOY initiative aims to bring quality traits to market faster through guidance of industry coalition. Willie Vogt

Published on: Mar 3, 2004

There's a new force in the market aimed at keeping U.S. Soybeans at work. QUALISOY is a collaborative effort between farmers and all parts of the soybean industry aimed at developing and commercializing varieties with enhanced compositional traits. And the fledgling effort got a big boost today as well as the effort kicked off at Commodity Classic in Las Vegas, Nev.

Monsanto has announced it will pitch in $8.4 million in financial support for the program made in payments from 2004 through 2006. In addition, the company will share soybean gene sequence - or gene map - information researchers can use. As David Durham, QUALISOY board chairman notes: "The gene sequences are from parts of the plant that are genetically rich."

The world soybean market has gotten more competitive and there are forces at work in the U.S. market - the impending trans fatty acid label for example - that could have a significant impact on soybean sales. In fact, Durham notes that soybeans have already lost ground in the food industry as companies begin to reformulate products so they won't contain any trans fatty acids when food label rules require noting that content.

"We've already seen lost markets to other oil sources," Durham says. "Food makers are either reformulating those foods or turning to formulas they already have on the shelf."

That puts the charge on QUALISOY to get moving. The multi-discipline group could be a guiding force for the soybean industry helping researchers and companies determine the key areas of development potential. Some areas that have been challenging are traits that appear to have low commercial value, but could be important in the quality story. For example, low-linolenic acid soybeans, which could help change the trans fat story, are in development, but could be two to three years from commercialization.

The United Soybean Board, which is a key player in the development of the QUALISOY initiative, has been working on the Better Bean Initiative for the past four years. The BBI aims for better oil and protein profiles in soybeans, especially for those grown in northern climates. The QUALISOY effort would build on that work.