The last couple of months has seen some awareness in both mainstream and social media about the use of soy, particularly GM soy, in stock feed. It is great that some sectors of the community are starting to understand the significance of this issue. We here at Wynlen House Farm have been raising concerns about soy in the food chain for some time. It is part of the reason why we make our own poultry feed using meat meal.
We originally started making our own feed over 15 years ago because we wanted to ensure that our poultry were being fed a nutritionally balanced diet and not a "one size fits all" processed pellet. We also were concerned because poultry are omnivores, and as such it is essential that they have animal protein in their diet. A vegetable protein such as soy is not ideal even when a supplement is added.
In 2016 when we were selected to be a part of the Australian delegation to Terra Madre the International conference of the Slow Food Movement, we became fully aware of the global impact of soy production. Over 300 million metric tonnes of soy bean is produced world wide, a 350% increase since 1987 (30 years) with approximately 90% of this production used for the stock feed industry. The commercial growth of livestock particularly pig and poultry consumption is correlated to this growth. https://www.soymeal.org/soy-meal-articles/world-soybean-production/
These figures accord with Australia’s consumption of soy products. In 2018 Australia imported 1 million tonnes of soy with 85% of this processed into soybean meal for livestock.
Of even more concern is that soy bean is the most adopted Geniticaly Modified crop, being 50% of the global production of GM crops (followed by maize, cotton, rapeseed…) The United States, Brazil & Argentina are the top three producers of GM crops.
So what is genetic modification? When I first heard about genetic modification of crops I assumed it was about producing more food. Technically, I suppose this is the case but in reality it is about making the food crop herbicide resistant, specifically to glyphosate. This is so the food crop can be sprayed up to 4 times with glyphosate for weed control without supposedly impacting on the actual crop. This fact alone is incredibly disconcerting considering the concerns now being raised about the health issues associated with glyphosate usage.
The Stockfeed Manufacturers’ Council of Australia states "Soybean meal is sourced from Brazil and Argentina with GM soybean meal used as a key source of protein by Australia’s pig, poultry, beef and dairy industries."
The hidden addition of soy in our diet and in the food chain through stock feed may well have long term health impacts. Scientists are concerned that the plant-based estrogen's that occur naturally in soy, many of which are endocrine disruptors, could potentially have adverse impacts on our health. Soy contains goitrogens which lead to depressed thyroid function. It also contains phytates which prevent absorption of life enhancing minerals and also loaded with phytoestrogens which sometimes block the hormone estrogen and have adverse effects on human tissues!
And then there is the connection to the Amazon!
Up until to 2006 soy cultivation was a major driver of deforestation in the Amazon basin. 80% of Amazon soy was destined for animal feed. In 2006, Greenpeace and other groups traced the impact of the global supply chain of soy, from commodities consumers like Cargill and McDonalds to the Amazon rainforests of Brazil. Negotiations resulted in the soy moratorium, a landmark collaboration that prevented the purchase of soy from recently converted rainforest.
https://globalforestatlas.yale.edu/amazon/land-use/soy. However while this moratorium is significant, deforestation continues.
Today Brazil has 24-25 million hectares devoted to the growth of this crop, and is currently the second largest producer of soybeans in the world.
Soy is one of just four crops responsible for around 75 percent of deforestation worldwide, with a disproportionate amount of that native vegetation loss occurring in the Brazilian Cerrado biome, bordering on the Amazon.
Taken from a recent article from Slow Food International https://www.slowfood.com/why-amazonia-affects-us-all/
“The big problem in a situation like this is not food as such but the need to understand once and for all that what we eat not only has an impact on the environment and that the land we see in flames today reflects our consumer choices in every sector, from cosmetics, culture and food to fashion and entertainment. If we fail to change our model of production and consumption, we will be unable to change the situation in Brazil and in the rest of the world”
We need to demand change now. The first step is to buy local and seasonal food whenever you can. The easiest way, is to support your local Farmers Market. If you live in the Braidwood area you can purchase local seasonal food and fresh GM soy free eggs directly from Wynlen House Urban Micro Farm.
As consumers we also need to commence a dialogue with our egg, poultry and pork suppliers and particularly with the stock feed industry about soy in the food chain. You can of course purchase soy free poultry feed from Wynlen House. This means at least your chook eggs are GM soy free.
On a final note we are currently raising a batch of GM soy free meat chickens which will be ready in early October. If you are interested Contact Us