The 2004 Commodity Classic convention, held March 2-4 marked the introduction of Qualisoy, a new soybean industry coalition focused on addressing the changing demands of the food and feed industries as well as improving the global competitiveness of U.S. soybeans. Qualisoy is a collaborative effort between farmers and all levels of the soybean industry to develop and commercialize varieties with enhanced compositional traits that add value to U.S. soybeans and soy products.

"The only way we can effectively address current market demands as well as maintain our competitive position in the global market is through a united soybean industry front," said Qualisoy Board Chairman David Durham, Immediate Past Chairman of the United Soybean Board (USB) and a soybean farmer from Hardin, Mo. "Recognizing that fact, soybean checkoff farmer-leaders created Qualisoy, a coalition with all parts of the soybean value chain committed to developing and commercializing enhanced compositional traits that add value to U.S. soybeans."

The Qualisoy Board consists of 22 individuals representing all components of the U.S. soybean industry. The Qualisoy Board includes seven USB farmer-leaders, three representatives from multinational technology corporations, two representatives from regional technology corporations, four individuals representing various soybean processors and end users, one farmer-leader from the American Soybean Association, two farmer-leaders from Qualified State Soybean Boards, one academic and one scientist from USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). USB's Chief Executive Officer serves as the ex-officio member of the board.

Durham explained that Qualisoy represents a call to action for the entire soybean industry. "We need seed companies to increase their research focused on compositional improvements, food companies need to request the traits and products they need, processors need to establish analytical capabilities to ensure end products meet desired specifications and farmers need to grow these higher-quality varieties."

"Qualisoy represents a progressive industry coalition that plans to bring about significant changes in the quality and marketability of U.S. soybeans, and I'm honored to be serving in my role as vice chairman of Qualisoy," said Qualisoy Board Vice Chairman Kerry Preete, who also serves as Vice President of U.S. Crop Production for Monsanto Company, based in St. Louis.

Also during Commodity Classic, Monsanto leaders announced that the company was pledging an $8.4 million grant to Qualisoy and would share important soybean gene sequencing data to help jumpstart the initiative. The company's funding commitment will spread out over the next several years through 2006, and is earmarked for on-going support of research and communication.

"Monsanto's financial contribution and sharing of technical data with Qualisoy will go a long way toward establishing future improvements in U.S. soybeans and ensuring that U.S. soybean farmers remain competitive," said Durham. "Qualisoy worked hard to ensure that the American Soybean Association and state affiliates were assigned a portion of the grant to assist in the development and coordination of supporting programs for the initiative."

Contributions, like Monsanto's, are necessary for the board to reach its long-term objective to develop a pipeline of enhanced compositional traits, such as those that improve the health attributes of soybean oil and soybean meal. "In the short-term, Qualisoy supports the checkoff-funded Select Yield & Quality Initiative (SYQ), which aims to improve the quality and competitiveness of U.S. soybeans by encouraging farmers to choose to grow top-yielding varieties that also contain high levels of protein and oil," said Durham. "The research supported by Qualisoy will help bring more high protein and oil varieties to the marketplace."

Long-term, the Qualisoy Board provides an innovative platform for the ongoing development of enhanced compositional traits in soybeans. This includes traits that lower saturated fats, reduce linolenic acid for improved flavor stability in food products and traits that create a mid-oleic variety to minimize the need for hydrogenation, which causes the trans fats found in certain food. Qualisoy will also work to develop varieties that may be used to produce soybean meal with higher metabolizable energy.

Qualisoy originated from a soybean checkoff-funded initiative that invests in research to develop soybean varieties with enhanced compositional traits. The Qualisoy Board unites all levels of the soybean industry to create added value and increased global competitiveness for the U.S. soybean industry through the development, commercialization and promotion of enhanced quality traits.