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Ken Kirkland, ISURF, (515) 294-4740
Walter Fehr, Agronomy, (515) 294-6865
Doyle Karr, Pioneer Hi-Bred, (515) 270-3428
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- A new agreement between Iowa State University and Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. will expand opportunities to develop novel soybean oils with improved health benefits.

Pioneer will make its higher-yielding soybean donor germplasm with healthy oil traits available to support the soybean-grower effort to improve the competitiveness of the crop. Under a 1991 agreement, Pioneer had exclusive commercialization rights to the oil traits developed by Iowa State, and provided the novel traits to the public and private researchers through sublicenses.

Since entering the agreement, Pioneer has incorporated the traits into commercial soybean varieties on the market today. Through this cooperative effort, the first soybean oils with improved nutritional value were commercialized, including one with half the saturated fat of conventional soybean oil.

Under the new agreement, the Iowa State University Research Foundation (ISURF) will be responsible for licensing the healthy soybean oil traits to other research organizations or companies for further development. This change in the agreement will make it possible for other companies to commercialize the healthy oil traits without obligation to Pioneer.

"Although public and private researchers have always been able to utilize the ISU traits for research, Pioneer has controlled the marketing of the oil from any soybean varieties they developed," said Kenneth Kirkland, ISURF director. "Pioneer has generously agreed to let other companies develop markets with the novel traits as a way of improving the competitiveness of soybean as a source of healthy oil."

All of the traits involved in the agreement were developed by Walter Fehr, Distinguished Professor of agriculture and director of the Office of Biotechnology, and Earl Hammond, University Professor of food science and human nutrition.

Pioneer has agreed to license its higher-yielding soybean donor germplasm with the healthy oil traits to public and private researchers for breeding purposes.

"Making these lines and cultivars available for licensing supports soybean growers who through their check-off fund are trying to improve the competitiveness of soybeans by improving the quality of soybean composition," said Fehr. "It means that public and private researchers can build on the efforts of Pioneer, which will save them considerable time in developing improved varieties. This is good news for soybean farmers, processors and consumers."

Pioneer will continue to license the healthy soybean oil traits from ISURF, but on a non-exclusive basis.

"We'll continue to develop and market soybean varieties with these improved oils," said Dennis Byron, Pioneer research director for oil seeds and field crops. "Our confidence in our proprietary soybean genetics allows us to do this. We hope moving to this non-exclusive agreement with ISU and making our germplasm available to other researchers will help build momentum for the U.S. soybean grower initiative to make soybeans more competitive with other oilseed crops through the Better Bean Initiative."

The "Better Bean Initiative" is a project of the grower-managed United Soybean Board, which allocates soybean check-off money.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., a subsidiary of DuPont, provides access to advanced plant genetics, crop protection solutions and quality crop systems to customers in nearly 70 countries.

ISURF is a not-for-profit corporation that owns and manages intellectual property developed at Iowa State University.


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