In my first post, I talked about why the processing of soy isolate matters to our health. Now I turn my attention to the first step in the processing with how the soybean is grown. The differences in soy isolate protein begin with the growth of the seed.
Soy Bean Growth: GMO, Non-GMO, and IPP
Soy beans typically fall into one of the following three categories: genetically modified, non-gmo, and certified non-gmo. The production and growth differences are important to understand so that you can begin to choose a soy product with the most health benefits to you and your family.
1. Genetically Modified (GM)
A food becomes genetically modified when the actual genes, or chemical composition, of the seed is altered in a laboratory to suit a specific need. Most of these changes provide obvious benefits to the farmer but, as yet, unproven benefits to the consumer.
Soy happens to be one of America’s top 5 genetically modified foods. Greater than 90% of the soy crops in the US are grown from genetically modified seeds. There is a lot of controversy surrounding GM foods–whether they are truly beneficial to humans or not. The reality is that no human clinical trials have been done with GM soy to prove what the health affects may be, positive or otherwise. 1 Scholars in the nutrition science field still have valid reasons for being wary of GM foods. There is also growing consumer support for purchasing non-GM food products.
Non-GMO basically means that the soy crop has been grown from a non-genetically modified seed. This status used to be enough; however, prior to 2003 there was no way to guarantee that the non-gm soybeans remained altogether separate from GM seeds. They could easily become mixed together during growth or transit. It is still possible today for GM and non-GM seeds to be carelessly mixed together. I even spoke with a soy company directly that stated unashamedly that their “non-GMO” seeds are indeed mixed and that it was impossible to completely separate these seeds. Really? Perhaps they are just not aware of the third option.
3. Certified Non-GMO (IPP)
In 2003, a special certification process was created to take the previous Non-GMO status one step higher. Due to the accidental mixing of GM and non-GM soy, this step became necessary for those manufacturers wanting to guarantee a clean product. An Identity Preserved Program (IPP) is used to verify that the soy remains non-gmo throughout the growth and manufacturing process. It utilizes a 3rd party verification process to certify that the seeds remain altogether separate from GM crops and seeds.2
Many soy food companies are seeing how desirable the “non-gmo” label is to selling their foods. However, not all companies want to pay the cost to guarantee it. If their product is still selling, then why bother, right?
Personally, if I choose to purchase a non-gm soy product, then I would like to know that that is exactly what I’m getting in the package. I want to know that I’m getting a truly organic product.
How about you? Where do you stand on this? Would the Non-GMO label alone be good enough for you?