How to squeeze more oil out of protein-rich soybeans? That’s the challenge taken up by a leading international agricultural biotechnology company and a University of Alberta scientist.
Canada’s soybean sector is growing in importance and value. Soybean oil, typically comprising some 18-20 per cent of its seed, is used increasingly as a cooking oil, in processed foods, or for industrial purposes. Soybeans that produce more oil means more money for farmers, seed companies and processors. Experts estimate that genomics could increase a soybean seed’s oil content by up to 25 per cent. Such a breakthrough, they add, could capture one-quarter of the growing global soybean seed market now worth as much as $4.5 billion annually.
Building on findings by Dr. Randall Weselake of the University of Alberta, this project intends to use genome analysis to isolate soybean seed trait targets with the potential to stimulate enhanced oil production without negatively affecting protein levels. Arcadia Biosciences, a U.S.-based agricultural technology company, will leverage proprietary non-genetically modified tools and genetics resources to rapidly validate the best target or targets and lead commercializing the findings throughout North and South America.
For Canada’s soybean agricultural sector, the higher producing seeds are expected to produce up to $68 million in additional annual value. At the same time, higher oil yields should lead to great land efficiency, thereby increasing environmental sustainability..