Over 94% of the soybeans grown in America have been genetically modified to make them resistant to the herbicide glyphosate. Monsanto makes the glyphosate (which it sells under the trade name “Roundup”) and Monsanto sells the GMO soybeans. Using the GMO seed, industrial farms can plant huge fields of corn or soybeans, then douse the fields with glyphosate, killing every living thing in the fields except the genetically modified seed. With no competition from other plants, the yields increase. Of course this means the farmland is repeatedly soaked in poison and the corn and soybeans have bacteria genes artificially inserted into their DNA, but that’s the trade-off for the increased yields.
Nature prefers diversity to monocultures and has a way to overcome this kind of manipulation. Thus the weeds intended to be killed by the glyposate are increasingly developing their own resistance, resulting in the rise of “superweeds” impervious to herbicides. I’ve blogged about this unintended consequence before.
As recently as a few decades ago, few American farmers would have even known what soybeans were. Now over 75 million acres of American farmland are devoted to growing soybeans, second only to corn.
Why? Because soybeans (being legumes) were found to be a good choice for rotation behind corn and because GMO soybeans are permitted and GMO wheat is not. Even though the industrial farmers must pay Monsanto for their GMO soybean seed every year, whereas they could just save some of their wheat for replanting, this extra cost is compensated for by the increased yields and high prices paid for GMO soy.
Over 70% of the processed food eaten in the U.S. contains GMO soy, corn or both. GMO soy is a common ingredient in salad dressings and mayonnaise.
But the vast majority of GMO soy and corn is fed to farm animals. 98% of soybean meal is eaten by pigs, cows or fish.
Scientists published a study a couple of months ago showing that pigs that are fed GMO grains suffer from health problems not found in pigs with a GMO-free diet.
For those who go to the trouble and expense of keeping GMO soy out of their diet, it would make sense to try to avoid eating meat from animals that have been fed GMO feed.
By eating only organic food a person can avoid consuming genetically modified soybeans. But it takes care and attention to avoid eating animals that have themselves been fattened on genetically modified soy.
Our pigs and chickens free range and get much of their nutrition from foraging. We also supplement their natural diets with GMO-free feed. Our chickenfeed is also soy-free. This feed is more expensive and more difficult to source, but we want to be able to offer folks the option of getting meat from animals that have not only been raised humanely, but that also have been spared a diet of genetically modified organisms.
If you’d rather not eat animals fattened on GMO grains and if you’d rather not contribute to the profits of Monsanto, make sure your eggs, chicken and pork come from a completely GMO-free farm.