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Inside an array of nondescript greenhouses on Fort Collins' East Drake Road, tiny specks of pollen grains are treated to grow into plants that will be cross-pollinated to combine their high-yield and specialty oil traits.

If this genetic match game is successful, oils produced from these plants may one day make their way into the snacks, sweets and other products we eat and cook with every day. More than 40 employees work here, yet the size and scope of their work goes largely unnoticed.

This is Cargill's Specialty Seeds & Oils division, part of one of the largest and oldest privately held food, agriculture, financial, manufacturing and industrial companies in the world.

Inside, workers develop and cultivate seeds and crops that can be turned into stable, heart healthy oils for cooking and eating.

The 30-acre facility is about to start a $10 million project to grow its footprint in Fort Collins. In addition to a 38,000-square-foot expansion of its greenhouses, seed storage and offices in Fort Collins, work on a new 67,000-square-foot steel processing facility is expected to be under construction in the next couple months in Windsor.

The company has been part of Fort Collins' fabric since 1963 when it opened its High Plains wheat breeding program. As eating habits changed, Cargill began the transformation into specialty oils in 1994 and worked with McDonald's in 2002 to develop a new cooking oil to decrease the trans fatty acids in the fast food giant's french fries.

Today, Cargill supplies Culver's and all Disney properties with oils. You'll also find the oils in Stove Top stuffing, Goldfish crackers, Nature Valley, Fiber One and a variety of other products. Cargill researchers are working on the next generation of Clear Valley canola oils, a high-stability oil suitable for cooking with reduced saturates and zero trans fats per serving.

With an eight-year turnaround from research to yield, Cargill's expansion in Fort Collins will reach into the next generation of oils to meet consumer needs including Omega 3 for brain and eye development, said Lorin DeBonte of Cargill Specialty Seeds & Oils.

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