Two types of high oleic soybean oils available on the market are transgenic, or genetically modified, soybeans. The modifications to these soybean plants increase oleic oil, a monounsaturated fat that is good for human cardiovascular health. These soybeans are highly regulated, as all genetically modified organisms have been for more than 20 years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees food safety for genetically modified organisms, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture handles implications for growing GMO plants in a field. Since the transgenic versions of high oleic soybeans are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency examines the crop for issues related to pesticide use. In the United States, this coordinated framework of regulations has been followed for every transgenic crop released to the public. Creating cooking oil from transgenic plants isn’t new. Most soybean oils, which are the major component of vegetable oils on grocery store shelves, are from genetically modified plants. And canola, another widely used cooking oil, grown mostly in Canada, is also a transgenic crop.
High oleic soybeans have received U.S. regulatory approval. Also, DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto’s high oleic soybeans have received regulatory approval from all major importing countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan, EU, and China.
Currently, high oleic soybean oil food product processors are not required to label food products as containing high oleic soybean oil, but many may do so because of the health benefits provided by the oil. Transgenic products may require identification in the future. The USDA is currently determining the most appropriate method to convey this information to consumers via a product label, QR code on the package, or via a website.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Marshall Martin is the Interim Director of the Indiana Agricultural Experiment Station, Senior Associate Director of Agricultural Research, Assistant Dean in the College of Agriculture, and Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. He earned his B.S. in Agricultural Economics from Iowa State University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University. In 2014, he was named Founding Director of the Purdue University Soybean Center. Dr. Martin is a specialist in agricultural policy, international trade, and technology assessment. Dr. Martin has had extensive international professional experience in Argentina, China, Cuba, Russia, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Egypt, Hungary, India, Spain, and Portugal. During his Purdue University career, he has worked in these countries with government, university, and private sector organizations as an agricultural policy, technology adoption, and economic development specialist.