Soybean ( Glycine max )
The soybean ( Glycine max (L.) Merr. ), Often referred to simply as soy (from jap. Shoyu for soy sauce ) refers is a species of the subfamily Pea (Faboideae) within the family of legumes (Leguminosae or Fabaceae).
The cultivation of the crop soybean has been around since 3050 BC. In Japan and at least since 1550 BC. Proven as a food crop in Korea and China . The soybean is now grown on six percent of the world's agricultural land and is the world's most important oilseed . Their increasing importance is reflected in the largest increase in cultivated area of all crops since the 1970s. While 17 million tons were produced in 1960, in 2016 it was already 334.9 million tons.
As an oilseed, soybeans contain around 20 percent oil. The soybean oil is mainly used as a food, but z. B. also used for the production of biodiesel . After the oil has been pressed, the remaining extraction meal ( soy cake) is heated in order to destroy the components that are poisonous and unhealthy for animals and humans ( trypsin inhibitors and hemagglutinins ) and then 98 percent is fed to animal production and 2 percent is used as food for humans. Soybeans contain around 37 percent protein . As a food, the protein quality of soy protein is comparable to that of animal protein, which sets the soybean apart from other plants.
Description and ecology
The soybean is an annual herbaceous plant with brownish hairs. Since there are very many convarieties and varieties , the morphological characteristics are also very different. The most common are upright cultivars with a stature height of 20 to 80 centimeters. Tall-growing varieties can reach a height of two meters. The stems are rather thin and more or less branched. Most varieties are finely and densely hairy on the stems, petioles and leaves.
There are varieties with unlimited (indeterminate) growth. The majority of the varieties, however, have limited growth as the terminal bud of the shoots develops into an inflorescence and the plant does not continue to grow. In higher latitudes , the former varieties are preferred.
The alternate arranged on the stem leaves are divided into petiole and leaf blade. The petiole is relatively long. The leaf blade measures more than 10 centimeters wide. It is pinnate unpaired and usually consists of three leaflets with one or two secondary leaflets. The entire-margined leaflets are oval with a length of 3 to 10 centimeters and a width of 2 to 6 centimeters. The leaves are shed while the fruit is ripening.
Soybeans have pronounced tap roots up to 1.5 meters in length. The roots are colonized by the soy-specific nodule bacterium Bradyrhizobium japonicum . In this symbiosis , the plant receives the important nutrient nitrogen from the bacteria in a form available to plants. When soy is grown in soils in which the bacteria are not naturally present (e.g. in European soils), the seeds are inoculated with the necessary bacterial symbionts .
The soybean is a short-day plant . When growing under long-day conditions, the growth time is extended by delays in the flowering and maturation of the seeds.
The three to twenty axillary flowers sit on short-branched stalks and stand together in lateral or terminal racemose inflorescences . Their coloration usually varies from pale purple to dark purple. With a length of 5 to 6 millimeters, they are relatively small and usually self-fertilizing . The flowering period usually extends over three to four weeks.
The hermaphrodite flowers are zygomorphic and five-fold with a double flower envelope . They have ten stamens . Of these, nine stamens have grown together to form a tube. The tenth, uppermost stamen is free and lies against the overgrown stamens. The stylus is straight.
Legumes grow only 20 to 80 percent of the flowers. The hairy legumes are 2 to 10 centimeters long and straw yellow, gray or black when ripe and contain one to five seeds. The brown, green or black-violet seeds are spherical, ovoid or kidney-shaped, flat or curved. The thousand grain mass ranges from 50 to 450 grams. The soybeans can be harvested fully mechanically using combine harvesters .
The number of chromosomes is 2n = 40.
Pests and diseases
Known pests of the soybean plant are the soybean cyst nematode belonging to the group of the roundworms belongs, the cotton bollworm , various stink bugs (in particular the type Piezodorus guildinii ), the Asian soybean rust ( Phakopsora pachyrhizi ) and the fungus Fusarium virguliforme . The fungus leads to the "sudden death syndrome" (SDS), which results in acute death of the soy plant.
Origin and history
Origin in China, Japan and Southeast Asia
The soybean is derived from the wild form Glycine soja . The earliest evidence of human use of non-domesticated small soy seeds comes from northern China (7000 BC) and Japan (5000 BC). The earliest evidence of large, cultivated beans comes from Japan (3050 BC) and Korea (1550 BC). It has been widespread in China since the Zhou dynasty (around 550 BC). In China at that time it was considered one of the most important food crops together with millet.
Glycine max was discovered for Europe by Engelbert Kaempfer , who first described it after his trip to Japan in 1691/92. There is first evidence from the year 1737 that the soybean was grown in botanical gardens in Holland, and also in France in 1739. In Europe, however, cultivation never gained any importance. Samuel Bowen first brought the soybean to the United States in 1765.
The early international increase in importance of the soybean is not only explained by its high oil and protein content and the high yield stability, as these were in some cases only achieved in the 20th century through enormous research efforts.
Beginnings in the USA
From the first mention of the soybean in US agricultural statistics in 1924 until World War II , the area under cultivation increased from 767,000 to 4,220,000 hectares. However, the majority of the harvest was not processed in oil presses until the late 1930s . In 1925 only 6% of the harvest was pressed, compared to 71% in 1939. The reason for the massive increase in production and pressing lay in the cooperation between farmers and processors that was just beginning. In the forum of the American Soybean Association (ASA), founded in 1919, the first binding purchase guarantees were made in 1928. In the early 1930s, the ASA succeeded in establishing prohibitive import tariffs on soybeans that were twice the market price. The US soybean production protected in this way was therefore able to expand. Nevertheless, the soybean was initially only used in industry. In the early 1930s, 95% of soybean oil was used to make paint and varnish . In the area of human nutrition, soybean oil , which could potentially be used for margarine production, was inferior to the competition of coconut oil from the Philippines , partly because of the relatively distinctive and strong taste of soybean oil. Hence, the future importance of soybeans in nutrition appeared unlikely. The industrialist Henry Ford processed soy flour into plastic , which he used in car production. But since the mid-1930s, under the influence of the ASA, the processing of coconut oil was also taxed.
In addition to protection from foreign competition, other factors favored the rise of the soybean. For example, the motorization of agriculture released larger areas that had previously been used for growing fodder for draft animals . Farmers facing fallow land and falling incomes hoped that soybeans would provide an answer to their problems. The soybean was also called "golden bean", "cinderella" and "miracle fruit". It has also been lauded for its nitrogen-fixing properties in improving soil fertility. The soybean could also be harvested with the same combine harvesters as wheat. The market prices were significantly higher than for corn. The ASA launched campaigns to make the bean better known among farmers in the Midwest . Research institutions and programs specializing in soy have also been established. The breeding stations imported thousands of varieties from China. Eventually the amino acid profile was identified and soy meal began to supplant meat , fish and cottonseed meal as fodder .
Second World War
The Second World War helped the soybean to gain further importance in the USA. The war stimulated the economy and increased the demand for goods, especially food. After the attack on Pearl Harbor , the country was also cut off from coconut and palm oil imports and had to make up for the slump in supply. The government introduced guaranteed prices for soybeans and subsidies for the processing industry. The prices doubled during the war. Also, the pork and poultry meat production increased by 40-50%, and gave the previously rather regarded as a byproduct of oil production soy flour a massive increasing importance as feed. Under pressure from the ASA, margarine manufacturers committed themselves in 1947 to using only American raw materials. Different in National Socialist Germany . There the aim was to introduce the valuable plant directly into human food. The National Socialists had turned their attention to the soybean, because with its high proportion of biologically wholesome proteins it was very well suited to close the so-called "protein gap" that threatened Germany because of the self-sufficiency efforts .
Post-war and international distribution
North American production expanded sharply after the war and thus increased sixfold between 1946 and 1970. While only a small amount of soy was exported immediately after the Second World War, this proportion rose to 40–57% by 1970. The exports supplied European oil mills , which were built by American companies, particularly in the 1960s. The use of soy flour as animal feed in Europe was also suggested by cultivation associations. American food aid and the dismantling of preferences for oil imports from third countries within the framework of the European Economic Community (EEC) also favored the further establishment of European demand for soybeans.
Soybean production in North America continued to grow since the 1970s. In South America in particular, it gained massively in importance. Soybeans began to displace coffee in southern Brazil . Today South America produces more soybeans than North America.
On the world market for oil seeds (excluding oil plants ) the soybean has the largest market share with over 55% and an economic value of almost 50 billion US dollars. The 2018 world harvest was over 348.7 million t. The total acreage was over 121 million hectares. The 10 largest producers together generated around 96.7% of the total world harvest. The largest producer was the United States of America, which alone brought in about 35.5% of the world harvest.
The largest soy producers
(in t )
|4th||People's Republic of China||14,189,217|
Soy production in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
(The rank refers to world production.)
(in t )
(in t )
By far the most important importer (2017) was China (68.6% of global imports), followed by Mexico (2.8%), Germany (2.7%) and the Netherlands (2.6%). A total of around 139.2 million tons were imported in 2017.
A genetically modified (transgenic) soybean , which makes weed control easier, has been approved since 1996 . The plants are resistant to the broad spectrum herbicide glyphosate ( Roundup ). In 2015, transgenic seeds were used on 83% of the global soybean acreage.
In 2017, South America produced 52.3% of the global soybean crop. In 2017, the arable land was 17.3 million hectares in Argentina and 33.9 million hectares in Brazil. Between 2002 and 2016, Brazil increased soybean production from 42.8 million tons to 96.3 million tons. Environmentalists criticize the fact that large areas of tropical rainforest are being cut down in Argentina and Brazil in order to increase the cultivation areas for soy. Other endangered ecosystems are also affected, for example the Cerrado savannah in Brazil.
The cultivation of genetically modified soybeans is widespread in some countries in South America. Their genes are modified in such a way that they are immune to pesticides such as glyphosate , endosulphate or acetochlor . Diseases and miscarriages have increased in the growing regions .
36.1% of world production in 2016 came from North America (USA + Canada). The main growing area here is the so-called Corn Belt in the Midwest of the USA, where almost exclusively maize and soybeans are grown. The US states of Illinois and Iowa are the most productive. More than a third of US production is exported, and soybean oil is the most common vegetable oil used in food production in the US.
The cultivation of genetically modified soy is also widespread in the USA and Canada.
In 2017, Asia produced 7.5% of the global soy harvest. China is by far the most important producer on the continent.
In 2017, 3.0% of the global harvest was produced in Europe. In the EU , soybeans are primarily produced in Italy, Romania and France, outside the EU in Ukraine, Russia and Serbia. The soybean acreage in Europe in 2016 was 5.7 million ha with a harvest of 10.7 million tons. The EU is the second largest importer of soy, three quarters of which is used as animal feed , mainly for chickens and pigs. In 2007 the EU needed 34.5 million tonnes of soybean meal , of which 0.3 million tonnes was produced within its borders. 98% of the soybean meal for animal fattening is imported by the EU, mainly from the countries of South America .
In Europe, cultivation is only considered where, during the vegetation period of 150 to 180 days given under European climatic conditions, a total heat of 1500 to 2000 degree days based on a threshold value of 6 ° C is reached. A soil temperature of around 10 ° C is required for the soybean seeds to germinate.
Several genetically modified soybeans are approved in the EU for use (subject to labeling) as feed and food, but not for cultivation.
In Germany, soybeans were grown on around 19,000 hectares in 2017 (unofficial number). Only a few locations in southern Germany ( Upper Rhine Plain between Freiburg and Mainz, Neckar Valley between Stuttgart and Heilbronn, southern Bavaria, especially in the valleys of) have optimal climatic conditions in the bean vegetation period between late April / early May and mid-October, which is possible under the local climate Danube , Inn and Rott ). Since 1996 the focus has been on organic cultivation. According to the German Soy Promotion Ring, GMO-free soy could achieve prices well above the world market price .
From 2011 to 2013, a research project financed with € 600,000 and led by the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture Germany with the participation of several universities, institutes, companies and associations was carried out by the BMEL as part of the “Federal Program for Organic Farming and Other Forms of Sustainable Agriculture” (BÖLN). The aim of the project was the expansion of soy cultivation in Germany through breeding adjustments as well as plant cultivation and processing optimization. The final report was published in 2014.
The first attempts at growing soybeans in Austria go back to the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in 1875. Soy cultivation became more widespread for the first time in the early 1990s. After a decline in the area under cultivation after joining the EU in 1995, the area under cultivation has recently increased steadily and in 2010 was 34,224 hectares, the fourth largest value within the EU. In Austria, soy cultivation is mainly concentrated in the federal states of Burgenland and Lower Austria , which each cultivate over 18,000 hectares. This is followed by Upper Austria , Styria and Carinthia (2018).
In the years 2010–2014, the average annual harvest increased from 94,544 to 118,100 tons. Around 50% of the harvest is processed as edible soy into food (e.g. soy milk, tofu). Several companies in the Austrian cultivation areas, which (as required by law) only use GM-free seeds, specialize in processing and export throughout the EU. Organic farming is practiced on 6,300 hectares (2011), around 20% of the cultivated area . In 2018, almost 200,000 tons of soy were produced on 67,075 hectares. In the same year, the organic proportions were highest in Vienna with 57%, in Burgenland with 44% and in Lower Austria with 41%.
The composition of soybeans naturally fluctuates, both depending on the environmental conditions (soil, climate) and the cultivation technique (fertilization, plant protection).
Details per 100 g of ripe, dried soybeans:
* Difference calculation
1 mg = 1000 µg
Feed and food
In the 2008/09 growing season, 91% of the soy harvest was pressed in oil mills. The products of the pressing are about 90% soy flour and 10% soy oil. The oil is primarily used in the food sector as salad and cooking oil, as well as frying and shortening. The flour is mainly used as a feed additive ( supplementary feed ) for poultry (approx. 46%). Even cattle (about 20%) and pigs (about 25%) are fed with soy flour. A small proportion (approx. 3%) is used, for example, as textured soy , especially in the vegetarian or vegan diet as a protein-rich food. Other common products are: tofu , soy sauce, soy milk and soy yogurt . In fermented form are particularly common: Miso , Tempeh , Nattō or Yuba and its variant bamboo (English: bamboo). The digestibility of soybeans is made difficult by the relatively high content of stachyose and raffinose . Stachyosis is a multiple sugar that is not digested by humans; rather, stachyosis is broken down in the large intestine by bacteria, producing gases ( flatulence ). Attempts are therefore made to reduce the levels of stachyose and raffinose through genetic modifications. However, there are also natural soy varieties with a lower stachyose content.
The sprout vegetables , incorrectly referred to in German as “ soy sprouts ”, are germs of the mung bean . These sprouts are used in most countries in Asia . In the Chinese and Korean cuisine but also real bean sprouts are used. These must be heated before consumption as they are poisonous when raw.
Soybeans are rich in so-called phytoestrogens - plant compounds with hormone-like effects . Their main representatives, the isoflavones genistein and daidzein , are the subject of numerous current research projects. They have mainly been linked to the lower incidence (frequency) of vascular diseases such as coronary artery disease in East Asian countries, where soy is consumed in much higher amounts than in Western Europe and the US . Based on the data from 1999, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed soy products to be advertised as follows: “A diet low in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol containing 25 g of soy protein per day can reduce the risk of heart disease . ” Due to recent research, this advertising claim has not been allowed within the EU since 2012.
The lower incidence of tumor diseases such as breast cancer and inflammatory bowel disease in these countries has been linked to higher phytoestrogen consumption, so that soy isoflavone products have recently been advertised intensively with reference to these properties. So far there is little evidence of effectiveness for this indication . A Chinese study showed a reduction in the risk of lung tumors.
There are research results that indicate a harmful effect of highly concentrated isoflavones. In cell culture, for example, they caused an increase in programmed cell death in heart muscle cells of newborn pigs. Other researchers initially suspected a connection between increased intake of isoflavones from soy products and reduced sperm quality ; here too, the research results are contradictory.
Since many consumers in Europe now also use soy products, the number of allergy cases has increased. Birch pollen allergy sufferers in particular can be affected: “The cause of the cross reaction is the stress protein Gly m 4, which belongs to group PR-10 and whose structure is similar to the birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 (50% sequence homology). A threshold dose for triggering a pollen-associated soy allergy cannot be given. Often, however, a slight mucosal contact with the allergen is enough to trigger a reaction. There are no representative figures on affected consumers. It is estimated that around 16% of the population in Europe suffer from a pollen allergy, of which around 10 to 20% (i.e. 2 to 3% of the population) develop a cross-allergy with soybean protein. "(Quote: BfR)
Use of soybean oil and soy lecithin in medicine
Purified soybean oil ( Sojae oleum raffinatum Ph.Eur . ), Hydrogenated soybean oil ( Sojae oleum hydratum Ph.Eur . ), Partially hydrogenated soybean oil ( Sojae oleum ex parte hydrogenatum DAB , ÖAB), soy lecithin ( Lecithinum vegetabile ex soja ) and de-oiled soy lecithin ( Sojae lecithinum desoleatum DAB).
Active ingredients in soybean oil are: Fatty oil (approx. 18-25%) predominantly with glycerides of linoleic acid , oleic acid and α-linolenic acid , only a little stearic acid and palmitic acid . Active ingredients in hydrogenated soybean oil, on the other hand, are mainly glycerides of stearic acid and palmitic acid.
Soy lecithin , a mixture of phosphatides , especially phosphatidylcholine , is produced as a by-product when soybean oil is extracted . Soy lecithin consists of 35–50% protein with plenty of essential amino acids . Other components are: carbohydrates , isoflavones such as genistein , daidzin , Formononentin and Cumesterol , Triterpensaponine , lectins , sterols and vitamin E .
Application: Soybean oil comes first in the world production of vegetable oils for food purposes (as edible oil and raw material for margarine production). Pharmaceutically, emulsions with soybean oil are used as intravenous infusions for artificial nutrition, as well as in bath additives against dry skin.
Soy lecithin is widely used as a solubilizer between water- and fat-soluble compounds, for example as a starting material for liposomes , in the manufacture of ointments, but also in the food industry ( chocolate , baked goods ).
The traditional use in tonics and as "nerve food" for lack of concentration is known. Because of its lipid-lowering properties, soy lecithin is also used to support dietary measures in the case of mild forms of lipid metabolism disorders, in particular in the case of high cholesterol levels , and is also used for liver diseases and for the prophylaxis of gallstones .
The isoflavones of soybeans have recently been discussed because the compounds, which are regarded as phytoestrogens , are said to reduce various hormone-dependent complaints, for example during menopause , and the risk of developing osteoporosis , heart and circulatory diseases and some types of cancer, especially breast cancer .
A final evaluation of these plant ingredients is still pending. One refers u. a. on the soy-rich diet in Asian countries, where these diseases are less common. 9% of the daily protein intake must come from soy for this effect !
Like other vegetable oils, soybean oil is used for a number of technical applications. In recent years in particular, its use in the manufacture of biodiesel and soy methyl ester (SME) has grown rapidly in the United States. Biodiesel made from soybean oil provides around 193% of the energy used in its production and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 41% compared to fuels made from petroleum. This makes it much more efficient than z. B. Ethanol from corn. The air pollution is also lower than with ethanol made from corn.
It is also used as a quick-drying oil for the production of alkyd resins , paints and fillers and, since 1987, especially for printing inks . In the USA, for example, around 50% of all newspapers and even 75% of all daily newspapers are printed with soybean oil-based printing inks; in Europe, the proportion is around 15%.
The fatty acids contained are mainly used in cosmetics and personal care products and in a wide range of other applications, especially as active ingredient carriers for lipid-soluble plant ingredients and vitamins and as a basis for bath oils and creams. Although soybean oil does not repel insects, it is also used to extend the short-lived effects of essential oils such as geranium oil .
The soybean genome is the first of a legume to be fully sequenced. It comprises around 1.1 billion base pairs . When analyzing the genome, the researchers came to the conclusion that it doubled around 59 and 13 million years ago ( polyploidy ). Knowledge of the genome sequence forms the basis for an improved understanding and better usability of the soybean.
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