The USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GISPA) had initiated the review earlier this year, publishing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register in May. The review had been requested by soybean producer groups as a result of the changes that have occurred in the breeding and production practices of soybeans as well as in the technology used to harvest, process, and test the beans, and in the marketing practices of soybeans. "In this rapidly evolving market, we need to ensure that the US soybean standards and associated grading procedures remain relevant," said GISPA in May. The initial comment period closed on July 2 2007, but GISPA agreed to requests from the soybean industry for additional time to comment. Comments will now be received until August 20 2007. USDA first established soybean standards in 1940, revising these in 1994 and 2006. The 2006 revisions, which provide specifications for determining the grade of the beans, are due to be implemented on September 1 2007. According to the agency, the standards serve as the fundamental starting point to define US soybean quality in the global marketplace. They include definitions, the basic principles governing application of standards, such as the type of sample used for a particular quality analysis, grades and grade requirements, and special grades and special grade requirements. GISPA is calling for data on foreign material, or impurities, found in soybean crops, as well as acceptable levels of damage to the crop. In addition, it is requesting information on other factors that that impact the marketing or processing of the beans. Specifically, it notes that oil and protein content are considered to be the true determinants of value for soybean processing, and asks if analysis of oil and protein content should therefore be mandatory, nongrade-determining factors that would be determined and reported on all official certificates for grade. In addition, it is requesting comments on whether there certain aspects about the oil and protein content of soybeans that would provide "more meaningful information". For example, it asks if the amino acid profile of the beans' protein should also be provided. GIPSA also said it has been working with life science companies to develop a standardized, rapid test for the determination of linolenic acid content in soybeans. It is now requesting comments on whether this should continue to be a priority. Acres currently devoted to production of low linolenic acid soybean varieties are lower than previously anticipated. In 2006, these acres totaled approximately 750,000 out of the 72 million total planted soybean acres - less than 1 percent. However, seed distributors project acres devoted to production of low linolenic acid soybean varieties in 2007 to triple. To access the Federal Register notice of July 20 2007, click here. To access the Federal Register notice of May1 2007, click here.