When you learn you’re going to become a new parent, you read a lot of books. You find all the parenting experts, the new methodologies, and techniques. You soak up well-meaning advice from other parents, you solicit tips, tricks and baby hacks, and you pour over preparations. 

And then the baby arrives and you realize that none of your research and careful studies could have possibly prepared you for the joys and frustrations, the challenges and the delights of parenthood. And you begin to understand that, though “the experts” may know a thing or two about the universal experiences of parenthood, no one knows your child like you do.

No one knows your child’s history, your child’s personality, your child’s struggles and fears, and your child’s exceptional uniqueness quite like you do. 

Because as a parent, the expert isn’t them. The expert is you. 

That was the philosophical approach behind the birth of “SOYLEIC,” a non-GMO, high-oleic soybean trait, which was inspired by soybean farmers and created for soybean farmers – the true experts on soy’s potential and uncapped opportunity. 

In the late 2000s, soybean breeder Grover Shannon and the soybean breeding team at the University of Missouri’s Fisher Delta Research Center heard the growing demand from soybean farmers who knew there needed to be another avenue for soy oil, offering growers new value-added markets for their products. 

This farmer-fueled challenge inspired Shannon and the research team to discover a non-GMO high oleic trait that stemmed from a traditional cross in the field. Shannon then partnered with a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) molecular geneticist, Kristin Bilyeu, to evaluate the importance of a non-GMO high oleic trait. This trait evolved into what is known today as SOYLEIC soybeans, a non-GMO, high-oleic trait available now to seed developers that results in high oleic soybean oil and non-GMO meal, developed through partnerships between the University of Missouri, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC) and the United Soybean Board (USB). 

“SOYEIC soybeans are an excellent representation of checkoff research at work,” said Gary Wheeler, Missouri Soybeans CEO and Executive Director. “Every small item adds up in research, and the checkoff gives us the opportunity to compete, innovate, educate and promote one of the most versatile crops on the planet.” 

U.S. high oleic soybeans have oil that typically contains 75 percent or greater oleic acid (Omega-9/monounsaturated fat), less than 3 percent linolenic acid and 12 percent or less saturated fats. Typically, soybean oil has 23 percent oleic, 8 percent linolenic acid and 15 percent saturates content. The improved fatty acid profile provides an oil with superior heat and oxidative stability. This functional advantage is a valuable tool in filling the void created by regulations that require the elimination of trans fats in foods. High oleic beans have comparable oil and protein content to commodity soybeans which produces a soybean meal with the same composition of protein and amino acids. 

With these traits, farmers can better meet the needs of food oil, livestock meal and soyfoods markets. Consumers and food manufacturers are consistently looking for healthy food options that are delicious, nutritious and affordable. 

For the same reasons high oleic soy is excellent in food applications, it’s also proving true in non-food markets. Today, many companies are looking for renewable, bio-based alternatives made from petroleum, and that also provide for better environmental stewardship while maintaining or improving the product’s functional properties. High oleic soybean oil’s excellent heat and oxidative stability is opening new markets for soybean oil such as industrial lubricants and greases. It’s being used to make marine oils, cutting oils, transformer oils, chainsaw and machine lubricants, hydraulic fluids and railroad greases. 

“Consumers are increasingly concerned with knowing what’s in their food and where it came from,” said Bryan Stobaugh, Missouri Soybeans’ Director of Licensing and Commercialization. “The identity-preserved systems that help SOYLEIC soybeans deliver performance and functionality also enable full traceability from farm to fork. With the growing population around the world, the use of a sustainable crop is pertinent to feed our families, friends and animals.” 

U.S. soybean farmers are committed to raising a sustainable product and continuing to improve their practices to minimize the impact on the environment. SOYLEIC soybeans support farmers’ efforts to meet their 2025 goals to reduce land use impact by 10 percent, lower soil erosion by an additional 25 percent, increase energy use efficiency by 10 percent and decrease total greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent. 

SOYLEIC soybeans provide a “best of both worlds” situation for producers and consumers alike, aligning with goals set by food companies and the farmer, while pleasing the consumer with functionality and nutritional benefits. As one of the most consumed vegetable oils used in food around the world, improving the quality of soybean oil can have a major positive impact on global consumers. With bans and regulations around trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils, the introduction of high oleic soybean oil is a welcomed addition to the food industry. The SOYLEIC trait provides an ideal, easy to incorporate solution for shortenings without partial hydrogenation, eliminating the presence of trans fats. 

One of the leading benefits to consumers is SOYLEIC soybeans’ heart healthy claim. High oleic soybean oil carries a qualified Food and Drug Admistration heart health claim recognizing that it can lower cholesterol and may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. It also has lower saturated fat and three times the amount of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids compared to conventional soybean oil contributing to lower blood pressure and cardiovascular health. 

The SOYLEIC trait has been produced in 14 states across nation and recently became available internationally through the first commercial license in 2021 with Italian multinational company, Sipcam Oxon. This year, SOYLEIC soybeans will be planted in nearly 70,000 across the U.S. The representation of SOYLEIC beans in the U.S. and export markets proves that when food science and agriculture technologies meet, opportunities flourish. 

“Bringing novel research to light with the ability to change the demand of soybean oil domestically and internationally is why the SOYLEIC trait is innovative,” said Stobaugh. “It brings down the barriers associated with health claims, brings soybean oil back to human and animal use, creates new demand markets for soybean oil and expands the current high oleic portfolio.” 

Today, SOYLEIC product and market development efforts are continuously working to increase seed product availability and performance, and open new markets to drive demand. It’s grown into a versatile product created for the global food industry, for the livestock producer, for the cutting-edge seed company, and for the local consumer. 

And though it was a decades-long process of drafting, adapting and modification, curated by researchers, developers, scientists, and marketing professionals, perhaps the key to SOYLEIC soybeans’ success has less to do with how it was created and more to do with why it was created: because soybean farmers saw an opportunity to stretch more productivity from their products. 

Because when it comes to understanding the exceptional uniqueness of soy, the expert is you.

Today, SOYLEIC product and market development efforts are continuously working to increase seed product availability and performance, and open new markets to drive demand. It’s grown into a versatile product created for the global food industry, for the livestock producer, for the cutting-edge seed company, and for the local consumer.