Missouri Now Holds Patent for High Oleic Soybeans

Missouri soybean farmers’ efforts to support innovation and the future of the Show-Me State’s top cash crop has received a boost. In late May, U.S. Patent No. 9,035,129 was issued for a method to produce soybeans with high oleic acid content developed through soybean breeding. The patented process is the product of a partnership between the University of Missouri (MU), USDA, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and United Soybean Board.

Soybeans covered by U.S. Pat. No. 9,035,129 contain three to four times more oleic acid than conventional soybean varieties. Those beans’ oil contains as much as 80 to 85 percent oleic acid, significantly exceeding the industry’s 70 percent standard to be classified as high oleic. The Curators of the University of Missouri and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are joint owners of the patent, and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council is the exclusive licensee.

“Obtaining this patent was an important step toward scaling Missouri’s varieties up from research quantities and making these non-transgenic high oleic soybeans available to our soybean farmers,” said Gary Wheeler, CEO and executive director for the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. “This is a testament to the strong partnerships we have built in Missouri, and the outstanding investments our soybean farmers are making in their future. We are excited for the potential high oleic has to add value to our growers’ crops, and look forward to developing plans to make high oleic soybeans available for future planting seasons.”

The technology included in U.S. Pat. No. 9,035,129 was developed by University of Missouri professor emeritus of soybean genetics and breeding Grover Shannon, and USDA-ARS research molecular biologist Kristin Bilyeu. This patent is the first for Missouri-bred soybeans with high oleic acid content.

High oleic soybean oil has market potential in cooking and baking, with high-heat stability and a neutral taste. High oleic soybean oil also has potential for a strong domestic supply based on current growth projections. According to the United Soybean Board, meeting the domestic demand for high oleic soybean oil will require 18 million acres of those high oleic soybean varieties within the next eight to 10 years.

Internationally, organizations like the United Soybean Board, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, as well as seed companies and other groups, are working to ensure the necessary infrastructure, processes and approvals are in place to support the shipment and processing of high oleic soybeans. Those approvals are key to long-term success given that the majority of U.S. soybeans are currently exported.

The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council is a statewide, farmer-led organization working to improve opportunities for Missouri soybean farmers through a combination of research, outreach, education and market development efforts. To learn more, visit the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council online at mosoy.org.