The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent Monsanto a letter of no objection, indicating that the company’s new product–nutritionally improved Vistive Gold soybeans–is generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

Vistive Gold soybeans contain an oil that can be used to reduce the amount of saturated and trans fats in foods.  Monsanto claims that the new product’s traits confer “significantly extended fry life” as well as remain more stable at elevated temperatures than their existing Vistive oils or conventional soybean oils.

Under the Vistive brand, Monstanto already has low-linoenic soybean oils on the market.  These oils have been used by KFC and Kellogg’s to reduce the amount of trans fats in their products.

Of the new product, Victor Bohuslavsky, Vice Chairman of Qualisoy (a marketing body for the soybean industry) said, “Oil from these beans can help food companies meet their reduced trans and saturated fat goals.  It’s also got the flexibility to be used alone or with other oils to optimize cost and taste.”

Monsanto’s Roy Fuchs also commented on the new soybean, “This product could offer farmers and the food industry an opportunity to help meet a growing demand for healthier foods.”

Soybeans are high in linolenic acid, which reduces the shelf life and stability of products made from soy oil in general.  In order to correct this issue, soy oil is often partially hydrogenated to reduce linolenic acid levels.  But this process produces artery-clogging trans fatty acids.

In order to eliminate the need for hydrogenation, plant breeders like Monsanto have tried to develop healthier beans.  The company commented that it is seeking food application partnerships with companies interested in developing foods containing the healthier oil.  

The change in bean production comes because of the increasing pressure put on food processors to eliminate trans fats from foods after studies found that the fats raise levels of LDL cholesterol and lower levels of HDL cholesterol.  LDL is considered ‘bad’ cholesterol and HDL is considered ‘good’ cholesterol by scientists.  The reversal of cholesterol levels causes clogged arteries, which can in turn cause heart disease.

In 2006, the FDA issued a regulation requiring manufacturers to list trans fatty acids on the nutrition panel of foods, which further encourages companies to reduce the amount of trans fats from their products.

  • Ann Quinn, consumer

    Is the FDA also going to or has it already listed
    a regulation which will require the use of the
    label GM soy on products using this soybean or
    any ingredient derived from it, including oil?
    That’s just so consumers worried about FDA GRAS
    definitions would have a point-of-purchase choice.

  • Ed Davis

    The infusion of technological modifications is dangerous. As with the hydrogenation process technology, it was discovered many, many years later that the resulting trans fats has much greater negative impacts. GM is scary and labeling may not help as the starting point (soybeans before GM) would be too hard to determine or explain.

  • Doc Mudd

    “Worried” consumers already have a choice – simply purchase the certified organic label…and let it go.

  • Leticia

    Doc, two issues with your comment are that many food manufacturers are lobbying to allow GMO foods to be labeled as organic and, for several years now, some GMO foods have made it into our organic options. Here are cites of several examples:,8599,1599110,00.html,, (an example with cotton)
    Another reason for labeling GMO products is because, for those who choose not to purchase or who can’t afford organic products, they should be able to identify non-GMO from GMO goods.

  • Doc Mudd

    Naw, just tighten up and enforce the organic standards to exclude GMO.
    So what if ‘organic’ costs more for those who are finicky eaters? The vast majority of us are just fine with our conventional foods just as they are, you should be OK with your fancy-schmancy ‘organic’ foods. Don’t mess with my preferred food and don’t drive up the price with a bunch of silly, meaningless labels.
    Go stick your false alarm labels somewhere else, thanks. GMO is a non-issue.

  • bricki

    Agreed – GMO is just not an issue. Don’t require labelling that will add no useful information and drive up prices for no benefit. There are lots of people who struggle to buy food, making it more expensive is not going to help.
    The finicky types need to to talk to their organic suppliers to find out what is in it, or get organic labelling requirements changed.
    If you are going to spend money, do something useful that actually improves food safety, like getting chickens inoculated against salmonella.