With more than 92% of soybeans grown in the US now Monsanto's GM varieties, John Schillinger, president of Schillinger Genetics, says many farmers want alternatives."Farmers get nervous about having only one technology to choose from.
They need alternatives and value to help their bottom line.
We want to offer non-GMO alternatives"
Passion for food soybeans
has a wealth of experience-more than 40 years-in soybean breeding.
helped to develop the first Roundup Ready soybean varieties in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1999, he left a position as president of Asgrow Seed Company to breed food-grade soybeans for the soyfoods market.
"My vision and passion was to develop soybeans for food use," Schillinger
In 2000, Schillinger founded Heartland Fields, LLC, a soyfoods company.
His work with Heartland Fields provided a good connection to and understanding of the food industry.
"My experience gave me the opportunity to connect with food companies and understand their soybean product needs," Schillinger
has continued developing food-grade soybean varieties, and last December he
launched eMerge Genetics as a way to link food manufacturers with seed distributors, grain handlers, and farmers.
"This is a new marketing concept and has the potential to help all parties," Schillinger
"This is as good a yielding soybean as any in the market," Schillinger
"We are continually pushing the lever back on variety development and field performance," Schillinger
In addition to Schillinger, eMerge's research team includes vice president of research Bill Rhodes, who has 30 years of soybean breeding experience.
research team uses marker assisted breeding (MAB), a non-transgenic biotechnology breeding method, to develop new soybean varieties.
MAB allows breeders to map genes and identify the traits they want to express.
"It's a marvelous tool.
It allows us to quickly make decisions on agronomic performance and yield," Schillinger
New soybean varieties in the pipeline include high-yielding varieties that can be used for both food and feed and low saturated fat soybeans and mid-oleic soybeans to make healthier cooking oils.
Growing demand for non-GMO
sees increasing interest among farmers to grow non-GMO soybeans.
"Farmers are looking at higher input costs with the Roundup Ready technology, and they will continually search for tools that will help their bottom line."
A big incentive to help farmers' bottom lines is attractive premiums paid to grow non-GMO soybeans.
In addition, Schillinger
says more weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup herbicide, making weed control more difficult and expensive.
expects farmers with small- to medium-sized farms to be especially attracted to growing non-GMO varieties.
eMerge is investing its future in non-GMO soybeans.
"We're investing in research to fill the need for non-GMO varieties that perform as well as GM
and are offered at a good price," Schillinger
sees a bright future for non-GMO soybeans.
"I'm counting on it.