GM in Soya

Genetically modified soybeans in Romania

  • Soya is one of the major GM crops in the world economy and much of what is imported into the UK is sourced from GM-producing countries.

  • Soya is used in a very wide range of products, including many processed foods; large quantities of soya beans are pressed for oil, or ground and used as the basis for dairy replacementproducts. The soyameal used for animal feed is the residue from the oil extraction process.

  • Soyabean meal consists of the fat-extracted soyabeans that have been ground into a meal and is an excellent source of protein. In fact, it is the most widely used high protein feed.

  • Soya is a very sought-after ingredient for dairy feed since it is currently one of the cheapest sources of protein, is highly digestible and can be used in sufficient volume in feed mixes to provide the protein levels required for intensive milk production.

  • Whilst rapeseed meal is also a cheap source of protein, only a restricted volume can be included in feed compounds because rape has negative nutritional effects on cows and is unpalatable at high concentrations.


Use of soya in animal feed has grown significantly in the UK since the ban on most animal protein sources in 1998, though accurate figures are hard to come by.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) states that the production of retail cattle feed (including for calves and non-dairy cattle) in Great Britain was 3,834,100 tonnes for the 12 months to December 2003.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland (DARD) states that the Northern Ireland production of retail cattle and calf feed was 63,300 tonnes in 2003.   On the basis of these figures, total UK cattle and calf feed would have been 3,897,400 tonnes.

Whilst neither Defra nor DARD holds a breakdown of what ingredients this feed contained, feed industry sources estimate that these rations would have contained around 10% soya on average. Assuming that all UK-produced feed was consumed domestically, and that none was imported (other than in the form of raw ingredients), this would therefore give an estimated soya usage for all cattle feed in the UK in 2003 of 389,740 tonnes.