Are GMOs Safe? The Case of Roundup Ready Soy

Are GMOs Safe? The Case of Roundup Ready Soy
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Genetically engineered soybeans have significantly higher pesticide residues than organic or conventional non-GMO soy.

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There is debate on the direct threat of the inserted genes, as they are not detectable in the human body, but the real danger may come from pesticides associated with genetically modified foods. Genetically engineered seed biotechnology typically has not been used to increase crop yields, nutrition, or drought tolerance but instead for profitable pesticide-resistant products. 80% of GMO crops are bioengineered only for pesticide resistance. Not surprising, given that the top 5 biotech companies are chemical companies that manufacture pesticides.

This allows farmers to spray herbicides directly onto the crops, raising a theoretical possibility that the level of residues of the herbicide on food we buy at the supermarket may have increased. Or at least it was theoretical, until now.

Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans are the #1 GM crop, genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup—also sold by Monsanto—allowing farmers to spray fields with the Roundup herbicide glyphosate, which then kills the weeds while leaving the soy standing.

Monsanto maintains that Roundup Ready soybeans are compositionally equivalent to that of conventional soy, a concept that is used to argue that GMO foods are therefore as safe as non-GMO, but Monsanto didn’t report the level of pesticide residues. In fact some of the comparison tests were done on Roundup Ready soybeans that hadn’t been sprayed at all, which is the whole point of having Roundup Ready plants so you can spray them with Roundup. In contrast to real-life samples from the market, transgenic crops intended for scientific studies are often produced without the application of herbicides or at doses lower than those typically used by farmers. It wasn’t until this study was published in 2014 when the full composition of ready-to-market soybeans were analyzed.

Here’s how much glyphosate was found in the GMO beans along with a glyphosate breakdown product called AMPA. Here’s how much was found in organic soy… None. What about conventional non-GMO soy where glyphosate is sprayed on the soil to kill weeds between crop cycles?… None. So GMO soybeans are really not equivalent, they appear to have substantially more pesticide residues. The debate then shifts from the safety of Roundup Ready soybeans, to the safety of Roundup itself. Are those glyphosate residues on GMO soy something to be concerned about? A question we’ll explore next.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Tamina Miller via Flickr.

There is debate on the direct threat of the inserted genes, as they are not detectable in the human body, but the real danger may come from pesticides associated with genetically modified foods. Genetically engineered seed biotechnology typically has not been used to increase crop yields, nutrition, or drought tolerance but instead for profitable pesticide-resistant products. 80% of GMO crops are bioengineered only for pesticide resistance. Not surprising, given that the top 5 biotech companies are chemical companies that manufacture pesticides.

This allows farmers to spray herbicides directly onto the crops, raising a theoretical possibility that the level of residues of the herbicide on food we buy at the supermarket may have increased. Or at least it was theoretical, until now.

Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans are the #1 GM crop, genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup—also sold by Monsanto—allowing farmers to spray fields with the Roundup herbicide glyphosate, which then kills the weeds while leaving the soy standing.

Monsanto maintains that Roundup Ready soybeans are compositionally equivalent to that of conventional soy, a concept that is used to argue that GMO foods are therefore as safe as non-GMO, but Monsanto didn’t report the level of pesticide residues. In fact some of the comparison tests were done on Roundup Ready soybeans that hadn’t been sprayed at all, which is the whole point of having Roundup Ready plants so you can spray them with Roundup. In contrast to real-life samples from the market, transgenic crops intended for scientific studies are often produced without the application of herbicides or at doses lower than those typically used by farmers. It wasn’t until this study was published in 2014 when the full composition of ready-to-market soybeans were analyzed.

Here’s how much glyphosate was found in the GMO beans along with a glyphosate breakdown product called AMPA. Here’s how much was found in organic soy… None. What about conventional non-GMO soy where glyphosate is sprayed on the soil to kill weeds between crop cycles?… None. So GMO soybeans are really not equivalent, they appear to have substantially more pesticide residues. The debate then shifts from the safety of Roundup Ready soybeans, to the safety of Roundup itself. Are those glyphosate residues on GMO soy something to be concerned about? A question we’ll explore next.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Tamina Miller via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

Make sure to see the next two follow-up videos (can subscribe for free here): Is Monsanto’s Roundup Pesticide Glyphosate Safe? and GMO Soy and Breast Cancer.

What about the other GMO component of farm animal feed, Bt corn? See my last video Are GMOs Safe? The Case of Bt Corn

Why do we subsidize animal feed more than fruits and vegetables? Check out my video Taxpayer Subsidies for Unhealthy Foods.

What happens when food industries self-regulate? See, for example:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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