Soy What?

From automobile parts to men's suits, "green" energy and of course soy milk, Canadian soy plants are a key ingredient in more than you think! Learn about these products and many more, and see for yourself how Canadian research has lead to a variety of products farmers can market and consumers can enjoy.

View profile of an Agriculture and Agri-Food soy researcher Steve Gleddie and a soy research assistant Christine Gagnon.

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Video Transcript

[Fade to a shot of a man walking through greenhouses. We see plants on his left.]

Text on screen: Dr. Steve Gleddie, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Steve Gleddie:
Hi. I'm Dr. Steve Gleddie, a scientist here at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Science helps farmers to succeed and a big part of our success is the development of novel products. Research also helps the farmer’s bottom line, while ensuring Canadians have a safe and nutritious supply of food.

[Fade to a close-up of wheat plants.]

[Cross-fade to a man watering numerous plants in a greenhouse.]

[Cross-fade to Dr. Steve Gleddie holding a potted plant. He is walking through a greenhouse. There are numerous plants to his left.]

For over 100 years Canadian scientists have been working at developing crops adapted to the harsh Canadian environment. An example is wheat...

[Fade to a close-up of wheat plants.]

...which helped develop the Canadian Prairies to agriculture...

[Fade to Dr. Steve Gleddie in the greenhouse, there are numerous plants to his left.]

...and earned Canada the reputation of being the breadbasket of the world. A more recent example is soybeans.

[Cut to Dr. Steve Gleddie studying various soybean plants in a greenhouse.]

Soybeans have earned their popularity with the high protein, high oil beans finding use as food for human consumption, animal rations, as well as many industrial products.

[Two photographs of potted soybean plants appear side by side on the screen.]

As you can see, here’s a soybean plant. Soy is a vine. Much like the pea plant, it can grow to about 130 centimetres.

[A soybean plant leaf is highlighted on the photograph on the left. The photograph on the right is replaced by a close up of a soybean plant leaf.]

It has trifoliate leaves...

[A seedpod is highlighted on the photograph on the left. The leaf on the right is replaced by a close up of a seedpod.]

...and the seedpods have between two and four seeds. Soy fields were almost nonexistent in Canada 25 years ago.

[Cut to a graph. We see a jar of soy seeds lying on its side (with seeds spilling out) in the forefront and a soy field in the background. Vertically, the graph depicts Hectares (thousands), the scale ranges from 0 to 1400. Horizontally, the graph depicts years, the scale ranges from 1951 to 2006.]

...and now soy is a bulging, lucrative market for farmers in Eastern Canada thanks to Canadian researchers. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's plant breeders were key players because they developed plants that could grow in Canada's unique growing conditions.

[A bar graph fades in. The graph shows a gradual increase in soy production. From under 200 hectares in 1951 to approximately 1200 hectares in 2006.]

[Fade to Dr. Steve Gleddie walking into a grocery store.]

[Cross-fade to a produce section the grocery store.]

[Cross-fade to Dr. Steve Gleddie walking by a refrigerated grocery store shelf. We see various products (orange juice, yogurt etc.) on the shelf. Dr. Steve Gleddie is now standing next to that shelf]

Although Canada is a relatively small player in the international soybean trade, we do export a considerable amount. Up to 40% of our crop is produced and exported as high-value, high-quality food-grade soybeans.

[Cut to a close-up of a nutrition label on the side of a bottle of soya sauce.]

[Cross fade to Dr. Steve Gleddie holding the bottle and reading the label on that bottle. He places the bottle back on the shelf.]

These soybeans are exported to Asia. They’re primarily used in specialized food products in Asia...

[Cut back to Dr. Steve Gleddie standing next to the refrigerated shelf.]

...such as miso, natto, tempeh and edamame...

[Cut to a close-up of a package of tofu. The text on the package reads Organic, Vegetable, Tofu.]

...whereas in North America in the grocery store you would be more familiar with products such as tofu...

[Cut to a close-up a package of veggie burgers, and veggie salami slices. The package of salami slices depicts a photo of the slices in a sandwich. The package reads Veggie Salami Slices.]

...soymilk, veggie burgers and the more conventional food products made from soybean.

[Cut to a close-up of a package of tofu sour cream. The text on the package reads Better than sour cream.]

[Cut to a close-up of a bag soya protein isolate. We see a brown powder through the bag; the label on the bag reads Soya Protein Isolate. Preparation of Nutritional Beverage.]

[Fade to a street scene with depicting many cars driving up and down a busy city street.]

The industrial potential of soybeans has long held appeal. For example, Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, was an early proponent of using soybeans as an industrial source of plastics, fibres and paints. Today the dream is alive and soybeans are now used in car parts such as foam for your seat.

[Cross-fade to a dump truck driving on a construction site.]

[Cross-fade to a dump truck being filled by a back hoe.]

The recent concerns over the environmental implications of crude oil-derived products has led to a renewed interest in a diesel fuel substitute. Soybeans are especially suited for oil-based hydraulic fluids in logging equipment. Should there be an equipment leak...

[Cross-fade to a front end loader driving on a construction site.]

...the environmental impact is much less than that of crude oil-based products.

[Cross-fade to the "break area" of a textile factory. There is handwritten text on the wall. The text reads Create. Craft. Knit. Spin. Imagine.]

[Cross-fade to Dr. Steve Gleddie walking past shelves containing balls of yarn (of various colours) in a small fabric store. He is holding a ball of red yarn.]

Although soy-based textiles have been around for decades - in fact, Henry Ford made himself a suit out of soybean protein in the 1940s - recent advances in soy protein processing have facilitated the production of high-end soy yarn such as this.

[Fade to a close up of the red ball of yarn in Gleddie’s hand. Its label reads 100% soy silk.]

These offer a nice, natural alternative.

[Dr. Steve Gleddie places the ball of yarn on one of the shelves.]

[Fade to a black and white photograph of a soy field being irrigated by unmanned equipment.]

Text on screen: In 1976, a new soy variety was introduced that performed well in Canada’s short growing season.

[Colour is introduced to the black and white photograph. The field is now green, the irrigation equipment is red and the sky is blue.]

Text on screen: Since then, soy production has skyrocketed - an eightfold increase between 1976 and 2006.

[Fade to Dr. Steve Gleddie walking through greenhouses. We see plants behind him.]

My colleagues and I are proud to be part of a large international scientific collaboration with industry and scientists worldwide that helps advance agricultural research and I hope you have learned something about soy research in Canada today.

[Fade to black.]

[Canada wordmark]

Text on screen: © Her Majesty the Queen in the Right of Canada, as represented by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2009.

[Fade to black.]

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