Vistive Gold

Vistive Gold, MON 87705, is a genetically engineered variety of glyphosate-resistant low-linolenic, high-oleic soybeans created by Monsanto.

Vistive Gold was designed to be a replacement for hydrogenated oils and fats, which are high in trans-fatty acids. The decreased linolenic content enables Vistive Gold to have favorable traits for deep frying and increasing the shelf life of foods.

The Federal Register declared on June 28, 2011 that Monsanto was petitioning the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for a non-regulated status determination of Vistive Gold.

The Iowa Soybean Association declared its support for deregulation of Vistive Gold on September 1, 2011.

Engineered to reduce the content of linolenic acid, MON 87705 suppresses FATB and FAD2, endogenous genes and encoding enzymes that play a role within the biosynthesis of fatty acids. This modification more than triples the oleic acid content, raising it from about 20 percent to 70 percent of all fatty acids, and reduces the levels of linoleum acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid that is present in seeds.

MON 87705 is also a Roundup Ready derivative, having the CP4 EPSPS Agrobacterium gene that confers the glyphosate resistance.

As with other glyphosate-resistant crops, it’s believed that MON 87705 can produce up to 0.60 US dollars per bushel more than the conventional soybeans.

According to Joe Cornelius, the Executive Director of Research and Development at Monsanto, MON 87705 has the potential to “make a real difference in efforts to produce healthier foods”, for instance, by decreasing the saturated fat content by more than 60 percent.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans calls for the decrease of solid fat, including saturated fat and trans fat, within the diet. Vistive Gold soybean oil will supply food companies with the option to further reduce saturated fat and maintain zero trans fat in a range of food products. Vistive Gold soybean oil contains 60 percent less saturated fat with considerably increased monounsaturated fat, which leads to considerably enhanced oil stability, compared to the conventional soybean oil. Due to the increased stability, Vistive Gold soybean oil doesn’t have to be hydrogenated, and, therefore, doesn’t contain trans fat.

An analyst at the Center for Food Safety stated that no animal feeding trials were performed on Vistive Gold to observe the results when it was consumed.

Researchers at the University of Canterbury came to the conclusion in a collaborative report submitted to the Norwegian government that there were numerous methodological and conceptual weakness contained within the MON 87705 file.

The study outlined the concerns that the rates, types, and pathways of exposure to MON 87705 haven’t been adequately characterized by Monsanto, which it also said had not presented a convincing case for having either recognized or analyzed off-target effects of the novel dsRNAs expressed in soybean MON 87705, or other unintended metabolic changes. The researchers found it noteworthy that Monsanto “excluded the production of novel small peptides being produced by regular but low level expression of intended dsRNAs,” and that it had “only argued that they do not exist”, which was explained as lacking a basis in science. The researchers also stated that the molecular characterization is not good enough for concluding that there are no novel protein-based hazards.

Additionally, they found that Monsanto had not “addressed several important health issues or substantial its claims of benefits to be derived from use of MON 87705, including the combinatorial (in food) or cumulative (in environment) effects of both high oleic acid levels and unintended increases and decreases in other fatty acids”, which was also noted as having potential implications for individuals that are affected by acute respiratory distress syndrome, which can be aggravated by elevated fatty acid levels or inflammation from inhalation.

Image Caption: Soybean. Credit: Wikipedia