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Apr 11, 2011

Monsanto modifies soy beans to grow ‘fish oil’

Photo: Government of Australia
On 11 April 2011, Forbes published on article on how Monsanto is looking forward to FDA approval of its gene-modified (GM) soybeans that produce omega-3 fatty acids.  According to Science News, approval was expected sometime in 2011.  Monsanto has dubbed the oil produced from the new GM soybeans by the name “stearidonic acid soybean oil” (SDA).

Doctors increasingly recommend the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and the one of the most readily available sources of this is fish oil.  (Omega-3 fatty acids are also available in whole grains, flax seed, fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and garlic.).  Currently, the American Heart Association recommends Americans eat two servings of fish per week in order to get adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.  Unfortunately, sourcing fish oil in large quantities poses the following environmental concerns: depleted fisheries, environmental toxins in fish oil, and contamination from radioactive water dumped into the ocean at the Fukushima-Daichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan etc.

According to Science News, this new SDA, omega-3 GM soy was created by inserting two enzymes into the molecular structure of soy.  One enzyme was derived from a flower (Primula juliae) and the other from a red bread mold (Neurospora crassa).  Monsanto states that SDA soybean oil contains 15%-30% SDA and 5%-8% gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).  It also has alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and palmitic acid .  Variations in the fatty-acid composition are due to natural variation in growing conditions for the soybean.

McMahon, Jeff. "Monsanto modifies soy beans to grow ‘fish oil’," Forbes, 11 April 2011.

Raloff, Janet.  "Fishy fat from soy is headed for U.S. dinner tables; For most Americans, it could help redress a critical shortfall in a beneficial nutrient," Science News, 9 April 2011.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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