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Certified sustainable Europe-grown non-GMO soybean meal has 80% less carbon emissions than European average

Certified sustainable Europe-grown non-GMO soybean meal has 80% less carbon emissions than European average

Editor Note: GMO soybeans also found to host allergens.  See:

Unintended effects found in GM soybean include increased levels of allergens

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According to a new study commissioned by Donau Soja, by using only certified, sustainable and non-GM soybeans, the soymeal produced at the AdamPolSoya (ATK Group) crusher in Ukraine has 80% less CO2 emissions, compared to average soybean meal available on the European market.

Donau Soja says the study, carried out by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) Austria, reveals how the exclusive use of Europe Soya certified soybeans at AdamPolSoya (ATK Group) in the Khmelnitsky region of Ukraine has a significant positive impact on the carbon footprint of the processed certified soybean meal.

The study found that the soybean meal produced from Europe Soya certified soybeans at AdamPolSoya causes 0.36 kg CO2 per kg of of soybean meal. This compares to the average soybean meal produced in Europe from an average soybean import mix, which causes 1.99 kg CO2 per kg of meal. This significantly higher level of emissions of soybean meal from imported soybeans is mainly caused by deforestation and land conversion for the cultivation of soybeans in regions such as the Amazon or the Cerrado.

Carbon emission reduction relevant in EU’s new legislation

The EU relies on imports of soy for producing animal feed – as it only has 8% self-sufficiency. Currently, 40% of the EU’s soy imports come from Brazil. Brazilian soybeans are too often linked to deforestation, producing up to ten times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions than Donau Soja/Europe Soya certified beans. The carbon emissions from deforestation are the focus of new legislation which soon will ban the selling of products in the EU that are linked with deforestation.

High percentage of sustainable and certified soybeans in Ukraine

Despite the huge challenges that Ukraine has faced in the wake of the Russian invasion, its agricultural cultivation – especially soy – has remained resilient. Last year 1.5 million hectares were planted with soy (up on the previous year’s figure of 1.32 million hectares), with a yield up 3.7 million tonnes in 2022, up 7% on the previous year, when 3.49 million tonnes were produced. 2023 looks also to be a strong year for the cultivation of the crop in Ukraine, with 1.8 million hectares planted. Approximately 658,000 tonnes of Ukrainian soybeans (17.5% of total production) were certified as sustainable, deforestation- and conversion-free and non-GM, according to Donau Soja Standards.

Dagmar Gollan, Executive Director of Donau Soja Association, said: “Food choices make a big impact on people’s carbon footprint. In fact, food consumption makes up around a quarter of individuals’ greenhouse gas emissions per year. And soybean meal – as feed for animals – has an important role to play in contributing to climate change. This study should be a wake-up call for feed and food producers in Europe, as it showcases the huge potential of certified, sustainable, non-GM soy when processing soybean meal – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our food.”

Vitaly Kushnir, AdamPolSoya’s commercial director, said: “We believe that European consumers will increasingly be guided in their food choices by the associated carbon footprint. Ukraine offers a readily available source of low-carbon product to support this ongoing shift in food industry supply chains.”

Volodymyr Pugachov, Donau Soja’s Deputy Executive Director for Eastern Europe, said: “Sustainable soy can be a bridge to connect Europe, helping build home-grown food systems which are good for people and planet. Sustainable, Non-GM, deforestation and conversion free certified soybeans have a lower carbon footprint than imported soya. Donau Soja’s consistent work with farmers in Ukraine means that there are significant volumes of sustainable soy in Ukraine, that comply and even go beyond EU requirements. AdamPolSoya sets the example for other crushers in Ukraine on how to be both EU compliant in a non-EU country and contribute to climate change mitigation.”

This study was released ahead of the Non-GMO Summit in Frankfurt on 9-10 May, which focused on the sustainability of soy and deforestation-free soy.

About European soy and deforestation

Globally, the change in land use – for example from grassland or forest to agricultural land – accounts for large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.[i] During 2005-2017, the EU accumulated 3.5 million hectares of deforestation in their imported products. Soy is one of the major contributors, accounting for 31% of EU imported deforestation.[ii]

In 2020, soy imports into the EU were over 34 million tonnes, mainly from overseas. About 11 million hectares are needed to meet this demand – just under one and a half times the area of Austria or three and a half times the size of Zhytomyr province in Ukraine. According to the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), only 25% of the EU’s soy demand comes from certified deforestation-free production, as guaranteed by Donau Soja/Europe Soya.

Desirability of feeding soy

In GMWatch’s view, dependence on soy protein should be drastically reduced in livestock farming, as it’s not the healthiest food for cattle and other livestock. Cattle should be fed predominantly on grass and silage and pigs on wholesome human waste food.

We’ve heard from a cattle breeder that cattle can rapidly be selectively bred to be less dependent on protein supplements and to be productive on a diet of grass and silage.

Chickens should eat grains, vegetables, and fruits.

Protein supplementation, where needed, can come from a variety of domestically grown pulses.

But insofar as feeding soy is still considered important by the livestock industry, we believe that non-GMO soy, such as that supplied by Donau Soja, is far preferable to GMO soy, because it is less likely to carry high residues of the probable carcinogen glyphosate and because non-GM soy comes with fewer health risks, as revealed in animal feeding trials with GM soy.

And clearly, European grown soy is more sustainable for the European market than deforestation-associated soy imported from South America.

About the study

In 2022, Donau Soja commissioned the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture

(FiBL Austria) to investigate the effects of using Europe Soya certified soybeans in further production steps. Data on the carbon footprint of soybean production are an essential part of the study and were collected in a previous study in 2021 by Blonk consultants (Netherlands). The primary data collection for soybean processing in Ukraine took place from August 2022 until February 2023.

About AdamPolSoya (ATK Group)

AdamPolSoya is a part of ATK Group, built over the course of twenty years on the principle of using vertical integration as a guarantee of quality. AdamPolSoya is a modern processing plant for non-GM soybeans of Ukrainian origin into high-quality Europe Soya certified products. AdamPolSoya fully tracks the entire chain of product supplies from a field to the consumer and maintains strict quality control at all stages: farm, storage, transportation, and processing, adhering to the principles of food and feed safety.

About Donau Soja

Donau Soja is a non-profit, independent and member-based organisation based in Vienna. The vision of Donau Soja is a sustainable, safe and European protein supply. To achieve this, Donau Soja supports, among other things, the sustainable production of soya in Europe and the development of regional value chains. The two labels Donau Soja / Europe Soya stand for non-GM soya products of controlled origin and quality from the Danube region and from Europe. Donau Soja unites over 300 members in 27 countries.

For more information on the study see: Life Cycle Assessment/carbon-footprint-project – donausoja

For more information on Donau Soja’s Protein Partnerships Programme, see this.


[i] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2020). Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry. Available at:–land-use-change-and-forestry-lulucf/land-use–land-use-change-and-forestry

[ii] WWF (2021). Stepping up? The continuing impact of EU consumption on nature worldwide. Available at:—the-continuing-impact-of-eu-consumption-on-nature-worldwide_fullreport.pdf

Main source: Donau Soja