A new meta-analysis on the farm-level impacts of GMOs

Despite the fact that the global area of GM crops has grown rapidly over the past decade and now encompasses more than 170 million hectares it is still questioned whether current applications of genetic engineering in agriculture are beneficial to farmers or not. While several reviews and meta-analyses on the impact of GM crops exist, the evidence is still not regarded as conclusive by many. A new meta-analysis of the agronomic and economic impacts of GMOs has appeared in the journal PLOS ONE. It summarizes the findings of 147 original studies published until March 2014. Besides being the most up to date, this meta-analysis has two other features that make it an important addition to the existing body of meta-analyses and review articles: First, it includes not only studies from peer-reviewed journals but also those that are not (grey literature), thus providing a broader perspective. Second, the authors investigated the

Soybeans, oil, and meal. Image from the  United Soybean Board via Flickr.

What do you want to know about Plenish® Soybeans?

Soybeans are the source of the 61% of the vegetable oil consumed in the US. (SoyConnection) That makes sense, because the oil is in some ways a byproduct of animal feed: “a 60-pound bushel will yield about 11 pounds of crude soybean oil and 47 pounds of soybean meal.” (NC Soybean Producers) Still, soybean oil has some benefits of its own that justify its prevalence. Soybean oil is “low in saturated fat, contains no trans fat, and is high in poly- and monounsaturated fats. It’s also the principal source of omega-3 fatty acids in the U.S. diet, and the primary commercial source of vitamin E.” (SoyConnection) Despite soybean oil’s benefits, there’s room for improvement. One of the biggest issues with soy oil is that it can turn rancid if it doesn’t undergo a process called hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil has a long shelf life, but contains trans fats, which have been

The Cost Of Precaution

The graph above shows the relative production of these major US row crops comparing the years 1993-1995 (just prior to the introduction of biotechnology enhanced crops) and 2008-10 (the most recent available data which covers a a span which comes 12-15 years after biotech.  Soybean production has expanded 47% in this time-frame while corn is up 58% (far more than the quantity now being diverted for biofuel).  Both of those crops are predominantly planted to “GMO” varieties, while the various segments of the wheat crop remain non-GMO.  Until 2004 it looked as if North American growers would also get to plant biotech wheat, but a vigorous campaign led by Greenpeace succeeded in blocking the technology.  Many major European and Japanese grain buyers were concerned about potential consumer push-back (based on Greenpeace efforts), so they made a coordinated threat to boycott all North American wheat exports if any commercial GMO wheat