General Mills partners with SDSU on oat research lab

Jim Stoutenboro harvesting oats in Central Illinois

General Mills has partnered with South Dakota State University to open an oats research lab on the SDSU campus in Brookings.

Jim Kirkwood says the company has been buying oats in that region for 150 years, and the school has an excellent reputation working with the small grain.

“They have an oat breeding program, and being able to align with that program and be able to work jointly is extremely interesting and exciting to us.”

General Mills agronomists and plant breeders are working alongside the university’s plant science department with a focus on advancing the sustainability and quality of oats in the U.S.

Last year, products containing whole grain oats made up 25 percent of the food retailer’s overall sales volume, and Kirkwood tells Brownfield the crop has great value on the farm too.

“It’s a great rotation crop because it gives back to the soil (and) grows in places of the world where some of the other crops, such as corn and soybeans, might not be quite as effective.”

He says General Mills isn’t anti-GMO, but having a staple ingredient like oats, that aren’t genetically modified, helps the company from a food labeling standpoint.

“Many of the other grains have had significant genetic modifications, and not that we think there is anything wrong with genetic modification, but starting out with a grain that has none is a wonderful place to start.”

The state-of-the-art Oats Research Laboratory opened Thursday in the Young Brothers Seed Technology building.





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