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Researchers Develop Non-GMO Allergy-Free Soybean

Researchers have isolated two Chinese soybean lines that grow without the primary protein linked to soy allergies in children and adults. The two lines already are adapted to Illinoislike conditions and will be given away to breeders seeking to produce new varieties of allergy-free soybeans without genetic engineering.

Crop scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis screened more than 16,000 soybean lines kept in the USDA’s National Soybean Germplasm Collection. The findings will appear later this year in the journal Crop Sciences.

The two soybean lines (PI 567476 and PI 603570A) contain virtually identical genetic mutations that do not contain the leading allergy-causing P34 protein, which consists of 379 amino acids, said Theodore Hymowitz, emeritus professor of plant genetics in the crop science department at the U. of I.

Because the newly identified lines occur naturally, they can be successfully crossed into other soybean lines “without any biotechnology derived component,” the researchers noted.

“We are releasing this information with no patents so that companies and breeders involved with soybeans can incorporate these two lines as quickly as possible,” Hymowitz said. Companies in Japan, Canada and across the United States have been following the research effort, he added.

Currently, 6 percent to 8 percent of children are allergic to soy-based products, including infant formulas.

Companies interested in obtaining the two soybean lines should contact Randall Nelson, USDA Soybean Curator, 170 National Soybean Research Center, 1101 W. Peabody Drive, Urbana, IL 61801.

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