Monsanto developing non-GMO soybeans for food use
2.eMerge Genetics launches "non-GMO revolution"
EXTRACTS: "It does not surprise me to see Monsanto entering the food soybean mark... I think Monsanto has seen the re-birth of this market and would like to tap into ... Within several more years Monsanto will see their GMO technology market share decline. They are thinking of future strategy so as to not lose their position." - Patrick Marc Ham, director of international development, Semences Prograin, St. Cesaire, Canada
"What will be gained if Monsanto produces non-GMO soybeans for food use and continues producing GM soy for making enormous volume of soy meal for feed, soy oil, and lecithin for food? Maybe a greenwash of their image for consumers who do not know better." - Augusto Freire, CEO, Cert ID Brazil, Porto Alegre-RS, Brazil (item 1)
1.Monsanto developing non-GMO soybeans for food use
The Organic & Non-GMO Report, May 2009
Monsanto Company, developer of genetically engineered Roundup Ready soybeans that account for more than 90% of US soybean acres, plans to introduce non-genetically engineered soybeans for food use.
According to Monsanto project leader Neal Bringe, Monsanto has been exploring the potential to improve the protein composition of soybeans for food for years because of the rapid growth in soyfoods and interest from food companies.
Using advanced, conventional breeding methods, Bringe says Monsanto developed soybean varieties that have better properties related to taste and health. They tested soybeans to identify varieties that had better solubility related to maintaining the smooth “mouth-feel” of soymilk. Monsanto then tested those lines to identify ones that best inhibited fat accumulation in fat cells after digestion. The aim being to produce soyfood products that help people reduce body fat while maintaining muscle mass. The soybean lines that best expressed the desired traits of solubility, bioactivity related to controlling body fat, and low flavor-producing properties are the ones Monsanto calls Sovera soybeans.
Bringe says the first small-scale commercial production of Sovera soybeans will be done after 2010.
“We are in discussions with potential commercial partners who are excited about the potential for a product like Sovera soybeans,” Bringe says.
Sovera soybeans will be identity preserved to ensure they meet non-GMO and other specifications that processors demand. Though Bringe says GM traits such as Roundup Ready 2 Yield could be added if a customer wanted it.
Suspicion, acceptance greet Monsanto’s non-GMO plans
The entrance of Monsanto, the leading developer of genetically engineered crops, into the market for non-GMO crops and foods is surprising to say the least. The reaction from suppliers of non-GMO grains and oilseeds ranged from skepticism and disbelief to a surprising welcoming attitude. Here are some reactions:
“I think they should not introduce non-GMO soybeans; they are involved in too many areas already and will only want more control.”
Bob Ridzon, owner, Ridzon Farms, New Waterford, OH
“I don’t think I would chance contamination problems of buying seed from them.”
Lon Baldus, owner, Meadowland Seed, Grand Meadow, MN
“What will be gained if Monsanto produces non-GMO soybeans for food use and continues producing GM soy for making enormous volume of soy meal for feed, soy oil, and lecithin for food? Maybe a greenwash of their image for consumers who do not know better.”
Augusto Freire, CEO, Cert ID Brazil, Porto Alegre-RS, Brazil
“It’s a little surprising because they are so pro-GMO, but I could see them looking at the (non-GMO) market. They wouldn’t be good managers if they didn’t look at it.
Craig Tomera, production agronomist, Northland Organic Foods, St. Paul, MN
“It does not surprise me to see Monsanto entering the food soybean market”¦ I think Monsanto has seen the re-birth of this market and would like to tap into it”¦ Within several more years Monsanto will see their GMO technology market share decline. They are thinking of future strategy so as to not lose their position. Monsanto has all of the resources to develop food quality soybeans.”
Patrick Marc Ham, director of international development, Semences Prograin, St. Césaire, Canada
“We would welcome Monsanto being involved in developing some new non-GMO soybean food varieties, and the sooner the better. The biggest problem we have for non-GMO food-grade soybeans is that there are not many new varieties being developed. If they can develop something with comparable yields to recent GMO varieties, and can incorporate some of the quality and size traits we are looking for in food-grade soybeans, farmers and food manufacturers are going to love it as well.”
Chip Daniels, who runs the specialty grain business at Grain Millers, Eden Prairie, MN
“I welcome anyone providing non-GMO soy varieties to farmers. I would even welcome Monsanto starting an organic farm. These are activities that merit support.”
Lynn Clarkson, president, Clarkson Grain, Cerro Gordo, IL
Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report May 2009
2.eMerge Genetics launches "non-GMO revolution"
The Organic & Non-GMO Report May 2009
Company aims to develop high-quality soybean varieties for food use to meet growing demand for non-GMO soybeans in US and overseas
With major seed companies phasing out non-GMO soybean seed in favor of genetically modified varieties, one company recently emerged to help fill the void for farmers who want to grow non-GMO. Schillinger Genetics, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, is focusing on developing and distributing high-quality, non-GMO food-grade soybean seed varieties under its recently introduced eMerge Genetics brand.
With more than 92% of soybeans grown in the US now Monsanto’s GM varieties, John Schillinger, president of Schillinger Genetics, says many farmers want alternatives. “Farmers get nervous about having only one technology to choose from. They need alternatives and value to help their bottom line. We want to offer non-GMO alternatives.”
Schillinger Genetics wants farmers to “Join the Non-GMO Revolution,” as the company slogan says.
Passion for food soybeans
John Schillinger has a wealth of experience””more than 40 years””in soybean breeding. Interestingly, he helped to develop the first Roundup Ready soybean varieties in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1999, he left a position as president of Asgrow Seed Company to breed non-GMO food-grade soybeans for the soyfoods market.
“My vision and passion was to develop soybeans for food use,” Schillinger says.
In 2000, Schillinger founded Heartland Fields, LLC, a soyfoods company. His work with Heartland Fields provided a good connection to and understanding of the food industry. “My experience gave me the opportunity to connect with food companies and understand their soybean product needs,” her says.
Schillinger has continued developing food-grade soybean varieties, and last December he launched eMerge Genetics as a way to link food manufacturers with seed distributors, grain handlers, and farmers. eMerge’s website allows farmers to search for premium prices growing non-GMO soybeans, locate seed distributors in their area, and find contact information for locations seeking eMerge seed. Grain handlers and food manufacturers can work together to find needed acres of a specific non-GMO soybean variety and post opportunities for farmers within specific regions. The site even has a “GMO vs. Non-GMO Value Calculator” that allows farmers to compare the costs for growing the two different types of soybeans. The online service is free.
“This is a new marketing concept and has the potential to help all parties,” Schillinger says. “We are still building the network, but we’re off to a good start.”
The key to eMerge’s success will be its non-GMO soybean seed varieties. eMerge offers three categories of varieties. The first is a clear hilum, medium level protein soybean, such as 389F.YC, used to make soyfoods such as tofu and soymilk. “This is as good a yielding soybean as any in the market,” Schillinger says. The second category is a dark hilum variety that is 15% to 20% higher in protein than commodity soybeans, making them good for snack foods, tofu, or soymilk. The third category is ultra low linolenic soybean varieties used to make cooking healthier oils.
eMerge works with Asoyia, LLC, a company producing low linolenic soybean oil for the food industry.
Farmers grow the non-GMO varieties in southern and central Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, areas near major rivers, which are used to transport soybeans to buyers in export markets, such as Japan.
New variety development is a major focus at eMerge. “We are continually pushing the lever back on variety development and field performance,” Schillinger says.
In addition to Schillinger, eMerge’s research team includes vice president of research Bill Rhodes, who has 30 years of soybean breeding experience.
eMerge’s research team uses marker assisted breeding (MAB), a non-transgenic biotechnology breeding method, to develop new soybean varieties. MAB allows breeders to map genes and identify the traits they want to express. “It’s a marvelous tool. It allows us to quickly make decisions on agronomic performance and yield,” Schillinger says.
New soybean varieties in the pipeline include high-yielding varieties that can be used for both food and feed and low saturated fat soybeans and mid-oleic soybeans to make healthier cooking oils.
Growing demand for non-GMO
Schillinger sees increasing interest among farmers to grow non-GMO soybeans. “Farmers are looking at higher input costs with the Roundup Ready technology, and they will continually search for tools that will help their bottom line.”
A big incentive to help farmers’ bottom lines is attractive premiums paid to grow non-GMO soybeans.
In addition, Schillinger says more weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup herbicide, making weed control more difficult and expensive.
Schillinger expects farmers with small- to medium-sized farms to be especially attracted to growing non-GMO varieties.
eMerge is investing its future in non-GMO soybeans.“We’re investing in research to fill the need for non-GMO varieties that perform as well as GM and are offered at a good price,” Schillinger says.
Schillinger sees a bright future for non-GMO soybeans. “I’m counting on it. There is a big enough market and opportunities in other countries, such as Japan, to help us succeed.”
Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report May 2009