CHICAGO -- Biotechnology can play a role in meeting the demand for healthier food, and the first products with direct consumer benefit are moving closer to the marketplace, industry experts said at the annual BIO International conference today.

"Biotechnology provides a tool for food companies to address consumer needs and wants and enhance the nutritional components of the foods we all enjoy," said Mary Lee Chin, MS, RD, and president of Nutrition Edge Communications and Healthy Traits.

Chin and others on a panel addressing biotech products with direct consumer benefits discussed biotech traits such as Plenish(TM) high oleic soybean oil from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, as well as work being done to improve the nutritional status of staple crops in the developing world.

"We have an incredible opportunity to address both the quality and quantity of the food supply," said Susan Knowlton, DuPont research scientist.

"Plenish high oleic soybeans, which are expected to receive U.S. regulatory approval later this year, contains more than 75 percent oleic acid, the highest of any soybean product under commercial development," said Knowlton.

Higher levels of high oleic acid significantly increases the stability of the oil and eliminates the need for hydrogenation, which creates trans fat.  Plenish high oleic soybean oil also has a 20-percent reduction in saturated fat over commodity soybean oil.

"Improving the quality of the oil is only half the challenge.  We also have to develop high oleic varieties that yield as well as conventional soybeans so growers will want to grow them," said Knowlton.  "We are very pleased with what we’ve seen thus far for oil quality and yields in field tests."

Plenish high oleic soybeans will be grown under contract for ongoing field and oil testing in 2010 and 2011 in the United States and Canada, and Pioneer anticipates commercialization of the trait in 2012, upon full regulatory approvals and ongoing field testing.

SOURCE: DuPont/Pioneer Hi-Bred.