Monsanto, Indian Firm Developing Enhanced 'Golden Oil'

December 7, 2000 Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) – An Indian research institute, working with St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. and Michigan State University, has begun an effort to develop a cooking oil enriched with beta-carotene, or Vitamin A.

The cooking oil would be derived from a "golden" mustard seed, genetically altered to increase its level of beta-carotene. The seed would be similar to golden rice, a crop developed by two European scientists using techniques patented by several biotechnology companies, including Monsanto.

The extra beta-carotene in the rice gives it a yellow hue, leading to the "golden" term used to describe Vitamin A enriched crops. Earlier this year, Monsanto said it would release its technology free of charge to researchers developing golden rice.

The enhanced oil has the potential to help hundreds of thousands of children with Vitamin A deficiencies, which cause vision impairment, blindness and reduced immune function, said the Tata Energy Research Institute in New Delhi, India.

The research institute said the golden oil would have great value in India, where mustard seed oil is commonly used for cooking.

"We have pledged to share our knowledge about agriculture to help improve food security and nutrition in the developing world, and are pleased to join in partnership with TERI and Michigan State on this new initiative," said Hendrick Verfaillie, Monsanto's president and CEO.

Return to the home page of Better Foods