GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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Ingredients and Additives

Soy is Everywhere


Soybeans are the basis for countless ingredients, additives, and vitamins. They provide nutrients for microorganisms and feed for poultry, swine, and cattle. It is estimated that soy plays at least a small part in 20,000 to 30,000 products that are on the market today, whether directly as an ingredient or indirectly as feed or a nutrient source.

Each year, the EU imports approximately 18 million tonnes of soybeans and 20 million tonnes of soy meal from Brazil, the US, and Argentina. The majority of imported soy enters the market as animal feed. Still, a significant amount of soy is processed in oil mills and provides the basis for countless food additives.

GM soybeans are now widely grown in the world's major soybean producing countries. By and large, soy products on the world market are at least partially made from GM soybeans. Conventionally derived soybeans are now only available from northern Brazil, where shipments are checked for GM content. If tests reveal that GM content is below 0.9 percent, labelling is not required.

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40 million tonnes of soy are imported into the EU each year. It is used as animal feed and as a raw material for numerous food additives.

Soy processing: Feed, oil, additives

Most soybeans shipped to Europe are processed in oil mills:

  • The oil portion (20%) is separated and processed as a cooking oil.

  • The remaining protein-rich soy meal is used as animal feed.

  • Only a small amount of soybeans is used to make the myriad soy protein additives found in foods. They are made from de-oiled soy flakes, which are made by heating soy to deactivate undesired substances.

Some soybeans are not processed in oil mills. Traditional soy products like tofu are made from whole beans with special quality requirements. Usually, soybeans for tofu are produced under specific contract agreements.

Overview: Soy-based food and feed

Soy products require labelling if the raw material at least partially consisted of GM soybeans. Unintentional, technically unavoidable admixtures of GM content of up to 0.9 percent are excluded.

Soy ingredientUseProcessing and testing for GM contentLabelling
Oils and fatsMargarine, vegetable oils, mayonaise, and many other fat productsSoy oil must be refined in order to get rid of solvent residues and other unwanted substances. This process involves heating oil to 120°C in a vacuum, which destroys DNA and protein to such an extent that it becomes impossible to tell if it was made from GM soybeans.Yes
Lecithin and other emulsifiersChocolate, desserts, baked goods, and other processed foodsLecithins are naturally found in soy oil. If lecithin is extracted from refined soy oil, GM content cannot be detected. If lecithin comes from soy oil that has not been refined, it may be possible to identify traces of GM soy.Yes
Tocopherol / Vitamin EPrevents oxidation in many fatty foods; used in vitamin fortified productsVitamin E is produced as a by-product of plant oils. For detecting GM content, the situation is the same as lecithin.Yes
Soy protein additives, soy isolatePrepared foods (soups, sauces), meat substitutes, diet foods, imitation milk products, e.g. non-dairy creamerMade from roasted, de-oiled soy flakes. Although GM content can still be detected, the final product usually undergoes more processing, which destroys traces of GM content.Yes
Soy meal, semolina flourBread, snacks, pastaSimilar to soy protein additives; baking often destroys traces of GM content.Yes
Hydrolysed soy proteinSoy sauce, seasoningsThe protein is chemically changed by acids or enzymes. This usually destroys DNA.Yes
Products from whole soybeansTofu, soy drinks, miso, soy flourGM traces can be detected in products made from whole soybeans. Traditional soy products are usually made from soybeans grown with special contract agreements. These soybeans have special quality requirements and are not mixed with mainstream soybean production.Yes
Feed for poultry, swine, beef, and aquacultureIndirectly for animal products like meat, eggs, and milkGenerally speaking, plant genetic information is not detectable in animals, regardless if they were fed GM feed. Yes,
(resulting animal products: No)

 


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information

January 26, 2006 [nach oben springen]

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