Funding to help accelerate the development of a soybean variety that will produce a healthier soybean oil has been approved by the United Soybean Board (USB).

The money goes to USDA-ARS researchers, who hope the oil will be ready for food companies to test within the next two years. It will be lower in saturated fat and will reduce or eliminate the need for hydrogenation in many uses.

"This project, which is part of USB's Better Bean Initiative, demonstrates our commitment to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers," says Jay Franklin, an Oklahoma soybean grower and chair of USB's production committee.

"USB has solicited and received food industry feedback that shows strong support for a low-saturated fat and low-linolenic acid soybean oil that can be used in a variety of applications. This oil will allow our industry partners to produce healthier products that will directly benefit consumers as well," Franklin says.

In fiscal year 2000, USB provided $3 million in funding for ARS research, and USB's approval of this new proposal will allow ARS to produce a sufficient supply of soybean seed for testing.

"USB's funding will enable us to get this low-salt/low-lin oil into the hands of processors and food companies much sooner," says lead ARS researcher Richard Wilson.

ARS expects production of about 5,000 bu of soybean seed with low-sat/low-lin traits to be processed into nearly 5,000 gallons of enhanced oil by 2002.