Twenty years ago, no genetically engineered food crops had been planted in the United States. Then, beginning in 1987, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began to receive what has turned out to be 11,600 applications for the testing of genetically engineered food crops. By the year 2000, over 50% of all soybeans planted in the U.S. were genetically engineered. As of 2007, that number increased to 91%. Soybeans currently surpass both corn and cotton as the genetically engineered crop with the greatest planted acreage. (For a more detailed look at genetically engineered soybeans and the history of crop planting, you can visit the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) review published by its Economic Research Service, at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/biotechcrops/ExtentofAdoptionTable3.htm).
Soybeans have not been genetically modified for nutritional reasons. They've been modified for economic reasons involving the reality of present-day agribusiness. For example, growers can now purchase "Roundup Ready" soybeans that are resistant to this glycophosphate herbicide.
There is no research evidence that shows consumption of genetic engineered soybeans to be harmful to our health, but I suspect that future research will show regular consumption of genetically engineered foods, including soybeans, to carry with it certain risks. Since genetic engineering means modifications of genes, and genes are the blueprint for making proteins, GE foods are foods destined to make proteins not naturally found in their chemical structure. Many adverse reactions to food involve immune system response to proteins, and it would be logical to expect more of these adverse reactions in the case of GE foods. At present, there is also a problem with regulation of GE foods by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As long as they pass a legal test of "substantial equivalence," genetically engineered foods are allowed into the marketplace without studies testing their safety. We are concerned about this type of uncontrolled experiment with a widely consumed food crop, and it's one of the reasons we support consumption of certified organic soy products. Genetic engineering is prohibited in the production of any certified organic food, including any soy-containing, organically certified food.
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