Should you feed your family GMO soybeans?
In recent years, genetically modified organisms (GMOs or GM plants) have been introduced into large-scale farming. These plants are modified for a number of reasons. For instance, many plants, including soybeans, are modified to resist certain herbicides, so that they will thrive while the surrounding weeds die off. Concerns about the safety of GM foods for both human health and the environment have also increased in recent years, especially since there is little long-term data on the effects of GM plants. GM soybeans, a common GM crop, may present several dangers to people and the environment.
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GMO Soybeans May Result in Hormone Disruption
Genetically modified soybeans are often specifically modified to resist the herbicide glyphosate, which is sold by Monsanto under the trade name Roundup.
According to an article in “The Organic and Non-GMO Report,” soybean plants that are modified to resist glyphosate often contain higher levels of estrogen as well as other hormone disruptors. Excess estrogen in the diet can cause harm to the reproductive systems of both humans and other mammals, including cows, pigs, and sheep, while the presence of hormone disruptors can affect a growing child’s or animal’s development.
Genetically Modified Soybeans May Cause Allergies
According to a 2007 article by the Canadian group Global Research, genetically modified soybeans may be a trigger for soy allergies. When GM soybeans were introduced in the United Kingdom, the rate of allergies to soy jumped by 50 percent. Researchers looking into the increase found that certain proteins in GM soybeans are identical to proteins in other common allergens. The researchers concluded that GM soybeans may play a role in increasing the rate and severity of soy allergies. Since soy allergies can be severe, it may be wise to avoid products containing GMO soybeans.
An indirect danger of genetically modified soybeans is their effect on the market for soybeans in the U.S. and other countries, according to a 2009 article in “The Organic and Non-GMO Report.” The prices for GM soybean seeds created to withstand glyphosate, along with the glyphosate itself, have risen in the last few years, cutting sharply into the profits of farmers.
In addition, the public concern about the safety of GM soybeans has put a premium on the value of non-GM soybeans, raising their price by over 10 percent per bushel. The GM versus non-GM soybean battle affects prices in the soybean market, which in turn affects how soy products are made and their prices for consumers.