Soybean is one of the most important protein-supplying crops, found in hundreds of edible and non-edible products such as soy sauce, meat substitutes, livestock feed and oil. While its most common oil-based form is table oil, soy is increasingly used for biodiesel production.
There is a surging demand for the “king of beans.” Since the 1950s, global soybean production has increased 15 times over. This demand is expected to grow, with meat consumption declining and sales of soy-based products on the rise.
While soybeans are a key source of protein for humans and animals, the sector faces critical sustainability challenges related to deforestation, biodiversity loss, excessive use of herbicides and human rights violations.
Commercial production of genetically modified soybeans has increased in recent years as well, with important repercussions for consumption and trade. It is estimated that over 80 per cent of soybean varieties are genetically modified. While we see an increase in demands for non-genetically modified soybeans from European countries, other big consumers like China will likely dictate the limit for growing standards-compliant soybeans.
VSSs in the sector have significantly expanded in recent years and will play an important role in producing sustainable soybeans as the demand for more nutritious and sustainable foods grows.
Can VSSs in the soybean sector contribute to climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and sustainable human development? We will explore these issues further in our soybean report, to be launched in the second half of 2019.