At the end of last month, Calyxt, an agriculture-focused company based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, announced its first sale of a gene-edited soybean oil for commercial use. The new product has made its way to a Midwestern restaurant with multiple locations for use in frying, salad dressings, and sauces, according to the Associated Press.
The so-called Calyno oil isn’t yet for sale in supermarkets. The company hopes to sell to consumers eventually, according to Forbes.
The Calyxt soybeans have been modified to produce a “high oleic” oil with no trans fats and less saturated fat. The company says they are more heart-healthy and longer shelf life in a statement. “Calyno oil is similar to other healthy oils Americans already love, like olive, sunflower and safflower oils, and can easily be incorporated into foods and recipes without affecting taste,” says the statement.
Because the soybean crop is edited with precision technologies, rather than traditional techniques that drop in new genes, often from other species, into a crop whole hog, the company claims the product is not a genetically modified organism (GMO) and is marketing the oil as non-GMO. “[U]nlike GMOs, we simply edit existing genes within crops using our technology to speed up a process that otherwise could have happened in nature,” a Calyxt spokesperson tells Forbes. “No foreign DNA is added to the product.” Specifically, the soybeans were derived using a transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN); the coinventor of this technology, Dan Voytas of the University of Minnesota, serves as Calyxt’s chief science officer.
See “Designer Livestock”
Calyxt is engineering other crops through gene-editing as the process can move along more quickly than development that uses conventional GMO strategies, which are subject to additional regulatory studies, according to the AP. But that could change, Tom Adams, CEO of Pairwise, another biotech company working on gene-edited crops, tells the AP, if regulation tightens around gene-edited foods. “You should never think of regulation as settled.”