One of the most effective sources of protein in the food supply today comes from soybeans. It’s also one of the most affordable food products we have. It can be turned into oils, sauces, protein bases, and even eaten on its own. By genetically modifying soybeans to be able to grow faster, bigger, or in environments that would be traditionally difficult, there is the potential of having more food available for a hungry world.
There are some potential disadvantages to growing GMO soybeans as well. Do the benefits outweigh the potential risks?
The Pros of Genetically Modified Soybeans
Higher yields are a real possibility.
Genetic modifications may make it possible for farmers to grow multiple crops of soybeans on the same land during the year. This would help to make a farm more profitable every year and enhance the food supply that is available to everyone in a region, country, or even the world.
More farmers could plant soybeans.
Although soybeans are a rather hearty crop, there are places in the world where they just won’t grow. Through the use of genetic modifications, the plants could be designed to respond to more difficult environments and this would help farmers anywhere in the world to use their land more efficiently.
They are easy to care for on a daily basis.
GMO soybeans can not only be engineered to be pest resistant, but also weed resistant. This allows farmers to spend more of their time working on other crops or livestock instead of focusing all of their attention and energy on their soybeans.
The Cons of Genetically Modified Soybeans
They may increase the rate of food allergies.
More people than ever before are allergic to soybeans. It’s become so prevalent that it has become a listed food allergy on grocery products. Because soy protein is extensively used in many food products due to its affordability, the development of a food allergy makes it difficult for people to find foods to eat at times.
The crops are hard on the soil.
Many farmers have found that they can grow GMO soybeans on their land for a limited amount of time before they’ll have to do a crop rotation. Unlike other crops, it may take more than one year for land to recover from the growing of genetically modified soybeans. Sometimes the land isn’t usable ever again.
There is no real consumer benefit.
Although more soybeans can potentially be grown, the costs of growing GMO soybeans is the same. This means that consumers are going to pay the same amount for their food products, whether modifications were made to it or not.
Genetically modified soybeans may be able to change the world’s food supply, but is the cost of that alteration a price that is too high to pay? By weighing these pros and cons, you’ll be able to answer that question in a way that best suits you.