Genetically Modified Soybeans !

Genetically modified soybeans

The soybean is a species of edible legume which is native to East Asia.

The soybeans are mainly used as food to feed livestock but also used to produce many food additives. Every year, Europe imports approximately 40 million tonnes of soy products. The soybeans contain quite a lot of protein and without it, Europe would not be able to sustain its current level of livestock efficiency.

Soybeans are also used to produce many additives used is various food products. An example is lecithin which is used as an emulsifier in chocolate, ice cream and baked goods.

In 2007, over half the world’s soybean crop was genetically modified; a higher percentage than any other crop.

Genetically modified soybeans were first planted in USA in 1996; more than 10 years later, they have spread to over 9 different countries covering over 60 million hectares of land.

The way that this crop relates to biotechnology is that it contains a gene that presents herbicide resistance.

The United States and Argentina are the world’s leading producers of GM soybeans. In these countries, GM soybeans are treated as conventional grown soybeans. Large scale plantings of GM soybeans are also found in Canada, Paraguay, Uruguay and South Africa.

Monsanto, the US biotechnology company, has genetically created a strain called RoundUpReady which is resistant to the herbicide Round Up. 

How does genetic modification affect soybeans ?

Soybeans have been genetically modified over years so that now they have a stronger resistance against herbicide products. This means that farmers who grow this kind of soybean only need one application of herbicide; which greatly reduces production costs and environmental impacts. 

Scientists also believed that if a soybean were to be genetically modified, then it would produce a high yield with less work required from the grower. Of course at the sound of less work, many farmers wanted to introduce GM soybeans into their farms. However after extensive research done by many scientists, it was shown that GM soybeans actually produced a lower yield than that of an organic growing soybean in different varieties. 

In order to genetically modify a soybean, a foreign gene is inserted into it that will alter the way the bean in some unnatural way that will benefit the producer.

Are genetically modified soybeans a danger to human health ?

Well, ever since 1995, scientists have been modifying these plants but have not really further investigated the health risks relating to this issue.

These GM soybeans are believed to contain harmful toxins that are likely to cause allergic reactions to the food. Genes that have been imported in the soybeans produce a new protein which may also trigger allergic reactions. This was made evident in the mid 1990s when soybeans were outfitted with a gene from the Brazil nut. Scientists attempted to produce a healthier soybean but instead created an even deadlier one. Blood tests showed that people allergic to Brazil nuts also reacted to the soybeans. '

The process of creating a genetically modified crop produces damage to the plant's internal DNA. The plant's native genes can be mutated, deleted, turned on or off, and hundreds of the genes may change their levels of protein expression. The end result is an increase of existing allergen or produce new unknown allergens; both which appear to have happened in GM soy. 

Even though these GM foods are used to feed animals such as cattle or cows, we are the ones who end up eating these animals so really we are also being harmed by these genetically modified foods.

GM crops can also contaminate other crops which are growing close by, making them unusable which could end up costing the farmer more money than to grow the soybeans without genetic modification.